How to Deal with Anxiety
Photo courtesy of Ryan Espanto.

How to Deal with Anxiety

Written by Emilie

Topics: Health

Although this post isn’t specifically about multipotentiality, it’s been my observation that many multipotentialites suffer from anxiety. Mental illness is also one of those things that can really get in the way of pursuing your many passions. I thought it might be helpful to share my experience, as well as some of the strategies I use to manage my anxiety.

**

I experience anxiety; frequent anxiety.

Let me first distinguish anxiety from stress. I don’t typically have a lot of stressful events in my life. Yet, the anxiety is a regular visitor.

It most frequently manifests as worry. I worry about being late. I worry about being misunderstood. I worry about being glutened while eating out. I worry that the truck turning the corner will hit me. I’ll be walking Grendel, hear a bark, and worry that the neighbor’s dog will get loose and attack her. I worry that armed men will break into the house. I worry about misogyny. I worry that I have snot on my face or food in my teeth. I worry that I’m worrying too much.

You get the picture.

Anxiety is a generalized disorder: it can be applied to anything and everything. If you’re prone to having anxious thoughts, you can have those thoughts about the most mundane or extreme scenarios.

For me, anxiety is present regardless of what is going on in my life. I’ve found ways of managing it. But when actual stressful events appear in my life, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire. Stressful events make my anxiety feel justified (you’ll notice that I tend to talk about my anxiety as though it is a separate entity or voice. I try not to identify with it personally), and when anxiety feels justified, its voice becomes louder and more frequent.

Recently, some stressful events appeared in my life. Most of them were actually amazing opportunities. But they were big, new, and scary. Here are the highlights:

I was invited to fly to Romania to deliver a keynote, and didn’t have much time to prepare. I had no idea what the food situation would be like, and whether I would be able to find food that wouldn’t make me sick. I didn’t speak the language. I had to prepare my speech quickly, and it was on a subject that I hadn’t spoken about before. I wanted to do a great job, and I wanted the company who hired me to be happy.

Over these last few months, I’ve been adjusting to the massive increase in engagement, activity, and exposure, here at Puttylike. I’ve felt chronically behind in my work: guilty for not replying to emails when I was working on the talk, and guilty for not working on the talk when replying to emails. I was drowning in heartfelt emails and comments, and felt guilty for not appreciating them as much as they deserved to be appreciated.

Then the Paris attacks happened, and my anxiety went haywire. To illustrate how bad it got, here’s something that happened about three weeks ago:

My fiancé and I went over to her grandfather’s house to have dinner with her extended family. Before dinner, we were sitting in the living room and someone turned on the TV and flipped to the nightly news program.

As the wretched American news program blared sensationalistic headlines, showing clips from the latest ISIS propaganda video (which suggested they would be targeting New York, where I’m scheduled to be in late January…), my heart began to race. I knew that the video was a scare tactic intended to build anti-muslim sentiments and strengthen their numbers. I knew about the statistical chances of being the victim of a terrorist attack. I knew all that, intellectually. It didn’t stop my anxiety. Rationalizing rarely does.

Valerie kept telling me to ignore the TV and focus on the conversation in the room, like everyone else was doing. But I couldn’t. The TV was all I could hear, and I couldn’t look away. The rest of the room seemed totally relaxed and this contrast between my inner state and the casual chatting around me made me feel self-conscious and even more anxious.

Finally, I forced myself to get up and go to the bathroom to breath, meditate, and calm myself down.

None of this is anybody’s fault. Not mine, not our hosts, who are great. My anxiety was already heightened from everything else going on in my life, and I had an extreme reaction to something that was disturbing, but not an imminent threat. This is what anxiety does.

(As a side note, with all of the political discourse going on right now, I don’t see much being written about mental health. That’s part of the reason I wanted to write this post. I doubt I’m the only one feeling this way.)

It’s three weeks later, and I’ve made it to the other side. Although my anxiety is still with me, it has returned to its “normal” level. I’m still in Romania, but my talk is over (it went well). I’ve been eating out at almost every meal, and haven’t felt sick at all. There were a few mix ups and close calls, but everything has worked out okay.

How To Manage Anxiety

Coming out of this period of stress and heightened anxiety, I thought I would share some of the techniques that I use to manage my anxiety. I’ll admit that I could use more strategies, particularly in times of stress, so please share your suggestions in the comments.

1. Daily Meditation

Every morning, I meditate for 20 minutes using the Headspace app. I started this practice before the recent stressful events hit, so my habit was already pretty well established. After years of on and off meditation, I’m finally on my longest streak ever: about 90 days. I don’t consider myself to be good at meditation, but Headspace helps because it’s guided and it goes in sequence.

This isn’t intended to be an ad for Headspace, but they also have a few three minute “S.O.S.” meditations, which are hugely helpful in moments when you’re freaking out.

Ultimately, changing my focus is what’s important. If I’m feeling anxious, but don’t have time to meditate, I’ll sometimes just focus on the feeling of my feet against the ground. Focusing on any physical sensation like that will help me calm down.

2. Nutritional Supplements

After reading this book a few years ago, I began supplementing with herbs and vitamins that increase levels of GABA in the brain (GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it quiets brain activity). The effectiveness of these herbs have made it really clear to me that I have a GABA imbalance. I take them on a daily basis, and when I miss a dose, I notice a far greater number of anxious thoughts.

I’ve done a lot of research on health and diet (it’s one of my interests), and I’m fairly certain that my GABA imbalance has to do with a bad gut infection I had a few years back, and the antibiotics I took to clear it up. I’m working on healing my gut, with the help of an excellent functional medicine doctor. But until then, supplementation provides some much needed relief.

3. “Noting”

Noting is another really effective technique that I use to lessen my anxiety, though I didn’t know it had a name until I listened to the Headspace sessions on anxiety. In any case, this is how it works:

Anxious thought pops up in my head.

Instead of getting wrapped up in the thought or identifying with it, I think “Hm, there’s anxiety. Interesting.” and then I refocus my attention on whatever I’m doing.

Sometimes the anxiety is so frequent that I can’t not get involved with it. But normally, this technique works like a charm.

e.g. AHHH I’M TAKING TOO LONG TO FINISH THIS BLOG POST. 

“Oh, hey look, it’s anxiety. Hi there.” Now let’s get back to writing the post.

4. Asking for Help

When I say “asking for help,” I don’t mean going to therapy (though I am a fan of therapy), I mean asking the people in your life for help with the little things that need to get done, that you don’t really have time to do right now.

When our community was buzzing with activity, and I needed to focus on my talk, I hired my team to do some extra work and help me with my inbox and other maintenance tasks that I would normally do myself.

Valerie helped tremendously by cooking more meals, and taking care of things around the house, so I didn’t have to worry about that stuff as much (she also helped with my inbox).

It’s amazing how much delegation, outsourcing, and a little external support can help you get through a particularly stressful period. It’s also nice to be able to reciprocate when your loved ones are going through hard times themselves.

5. Eat and/or Sleep

That news program incident happened right before dinner. In fact, dinner was delayed by about an hour because one of the guests was stuck in traffic. In other words, I was starving.

I’ve noticed that, almost without fail, my worst bouts of anxiety happen when I’m hungry and/or tired.

Remembering this can help me come up with an action to take (eat/sleep), or if that isn’t possible, it can at least remind me that I’m not crazy and the world isn’t falling apart.

That’s all I got, but I would love to hear from you.

Your Turn

Do you experience anxiety? What strategies do you use to manage/reduce your anxiety?

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.

92 Comments

  1. Maryske says:

    On a sidenote: if you are still hanging around Bucharest and looking to meet other multipods, any chance of coming over to Bratislava, or else Vienna? For us Europeans, it’s quite a distance, but for you Americans it’s likely to feel “just around the corner” :-)

  2. Silvina says:

    Dear Emilie: I discovered your Ted talk a few weeks ago and it was such a relief! I’ve always felt guilty for not having a “calling” or for starting multiple activities that I later abandon. Now I know I’m “normal”. I’ve been also suffering from anxiety for about 15 years; sometimes I can handle it, sometimes I can’t. Doing something with my hands (like origami or any DIY stuff) usually helps to calm me down, but most of the times I have to turn to medication :(
    Greetings from Argentina!

    • Sneha says:

      Hi Silvina. Your message is such a replica to the email i wrote to Emily a couple of days ago.. It is relieving to see that there are others like you who’re going through the same thing. ?
      I find that listening to music, drawing, dancing usually helps me with my anxiety. Even just pretending to be okay and talking normally to someone helps.
      Greetings from India

      • Akshit says:

        Hi, i am just to new to finding out the problem (or better go with ‘situation’) i was in.
        Good to see that atleast one person is there from my Place.
        At this level a person from maybe thousands of km away seems one’s own.
        ::
        coping up with the situation,
        Akshit

  3. Julia says:

    Hey Emilie,

    thanks for sharing your story and your feelings. I often feel anxious and worried too. Although, I have a different approach from yours, maybe you can give it a try if you want :)

    So, you say sou try not to identify with your anxiety. I’d suggest the direct opposite. I experienced great change in my mood when I totally and unconditionally accepted my feelings. Even the negative ones, the worrying ones. Cause they are part of me too… And there’s a reason why we worry, it evolved for a reason, it tries to protect us. Anxiety has benefits and it has even been linked to higher IQ ;) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2879265/Are-worrier-likely-smart-People-prone-anxiety-higher-levels-intelligence.html

    Best wishes,
    Julia

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Julia,

      Oh I totally agree with you. I didn’t fully elaborate on that idea, but what I meant is that instead of thinking “I AM anxious,” or “I am an anxious person,” I try to think “I’m having an anxious thought,” or “I’m feeling anxious right now.” Stressing that it is impermanent. It isn’t who I am.

      I believe in feeling your feelings fully, but then letting them pass, rather than dwelling on them. For me, at least, dwelling on my emotions makes me feel them more and more until I get totally lost in them.

      • Julia says:

        Oh, I see :) Well, anyway everyone has to do what feels good for them. And I think it’s great that you wrote about the topic and shared your feelings. If we share our problems with the people in our environment, at least we don’t have to worry and wonder about what they think of us :)

      • Anthea Hubanks says:

        Emily,

        Your post is so good and so needed.

        I began experiencing high levels of anxiety when I left for college a few years back at the age of 56 … yes 56. After a job layoff and without degree or any bright career opportunities, I decided to try something new that I’d always wanted to do — earn a degree. And I flew from the Seattle area to Massachusetts for school. As an undergrad living in a dorm of a competitive women’s liberal arts college (the oldest in the nation) with women younger than my own kids, I hit the books hard, had amazing experiences, learned so much, and began experiencing extreme levels of anxiety every day several times a day.

        Anxiety hit me like a train each morning upon waking, with my heart pounding in my chest. I had no one to ask for help, so plowed through and stayed busy, believing the feelings had to do with always working to a an unending deadline. As the pressure of one completed paper or exam lifted, in came another and another. That is the nature of college though, as you likely already know. It gave me a great, new respect for my two kids who had both completed their undergrad degrees and one had completed a graduate degree. Before attending college I had no clue how hard my kids had worked or how stressful college is. I believe college creates a culture of anxiety and stress. I spoke with several friends at school about this, as well as my counselor, and we all agreed that people in the U.S. learn how to be “stressed out” to the point of anxiety in college. And there are bragging rights that come with being under the most stress in school. You hear about it all over campus and one person’s anxiety often breeds and feeds more anxiety in others. Anxiety and stress are contagious. I use the term stress as it is commonly used in place of anxiety — saying “I’m so anxietied out!” doesn’t quite work.

        For help with anxiety, I sought counseling through the college, met with 3 therapists, and the one I found during my last semester was terrific. We both practiced meditation, as well as holistic health and living practices, so it was a great fit and seeing Sabrina made my last semester more bearable.

        I graduated with honors, returned to the Pacific Northwest and breathed a sigh of relief to be home. And yet the anxiety stayed with me. As I mentioned, I had been meditating even before college, but it did not do much to relieve my anxiety after college. It helped in the moment, but what I really wanted was to experience a cumulative reduction in anxiety.

        Then I read The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. A friend had recommended these years before, but I resisted reading the books for some reason. I also found Eckhart Tolle Youtube videos with short talks. Tolle’s explanation of what you describe as “having an anxious thought” but not identifying with it — “It isn’t who I am” — changed everything for me, as did learning to stay present and avoid creating stories in my head about bad things that might happen. From Tolle I learned as you describe to simply “note” when I’m having an anxious thought (“Hm, there’s anxiety. Interesting” — or fear or criticism or judgement — filling in the blank and note it each time). Watching or noting the feeling, and then feeling the feeling without identifying with it (this is not who I am) made all the difference for me. As Tolle describes, the act of witnessing or noting reduces the mind’s power to take us over in this way.

        For me, learning “why” noting or watching works has been so helpful. The books I mentioned simply and effortlessly walked me through the why’s and how-to’s. And meditation is a whole new experience now, too. Beginning to understand that we as humans are still mastering what it means to be conscious beings and that we have a long way to go before we are able to live fully conscious lives allowed me to begin to release my habituated anxiety rooted in lifelong fear.

        Most of all, I’m learning day by day, moment by moment to be fully present and live in THIS moment — rather than in yesterday’s moments or tomorrow’s moments. Living in the Now and asking myself “Is everything alright right NOW?” helps so much . Rather than identifying life’s challenges as “problems” I view challenges as “situations” that involve making choices. Do I want to do nothing or do I want to do something about the situation? What can I do Now about the situation? Then I do my best to do that thing, and to act consciously and with presence in the Now.

        This comment is a bit long. Thanks for the chance to share. I look forward to reading more from you about Multipotentialites!

  4. Scrollwork says:

    I appreciate your candor, Emilie. I manage my anxiety with Linden tea; homeopathic Bach Rescue Pastilles (daytime) or Sleep Liquid Melts, which are non-habit forming; Calm magnesium powder; sour jujube root extract powder (Suan Zao Ren Tang); or Angelica Longona extract. The last two were prescribed by my acupuncturist, who has trained in ancient Chinese medicine.

    Also, chakra-clearing chanting prior to daily meditation has helped me.

    I’ve learned to note when my body is being hypersensitive to heat and foot itch (usually at night), and I take action quickly before anxiety kicks in.

    All the best to you as you manage this challenge.

  5. suzanne says:

    hey emilie, i can totally relate to having belly problems, i´m also following this diet to calm down my oversensitive intestines… anyways, i notice that i´m much faster feeling off, when my belly is upset, which makes it even more important to eat the right things, in time. However, somebody also told me that it also works the other way around: when you talk to your belly and `tell it´ there is no need to overreact, it will also make digestion easier. Interesting no? I´m really interested in how food influences our moods and wellbeing. I don´t think there is any scientific evidence about it, so trial and error it will be. Take care and i hope you find the peace of mind to just enjoy all the cool stuff you´re doing!

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Suzanne,

      There’s actually some research out there on the “gut-brain axis.” You should look up that term. I agree, super interesting topic!

      • Jane says:

        On this topic, I highly recommend reading ‘Gut’ by Julia Enders. It has really helped me understand the connection between gut and mind and how my (long-undiagnosed) gluten-intolerance has affected me mentally and emotionally.

  6. Lisa says:

    Dear Emilie,
    stumbling across your TED talk and Puttylike is a gift and a relief for me! Thank you!
    I have been dealing with anxiety since my early teenage years (i’m 35 now) as well as my female family members. In the past few years i have developed some strategies that help me:

    Not identifying with my anxiety and “noting” helps a lot.
    I tried meditation – not for me. My meditation is climbing, it puts me into Now & Here very effectively. Sport in general helps me a lot, cycling and walking in everyday life, swimming, hiking… as well as physical work (gardening, chopping wood, painting, building…).
    Being outside, in the nature.
    Working.
    Also, very basic: eat and sleep (and rest). I started to put a muesli bar in every bag i use, for emergencies. :-)
    Writing morning pages (3 pages directly after waking up, as described by Julia Cameron).
    I will check out GABA, thanks for that remark.

    All the best from Vienna, Austria,
    Lisa

  7. ian says:

    Hi Emile,

    A good technique is if you get a ‘what if x happens?’ think ‘what if x doesn’t happen?’

    The numbers game is that the ‘doesn’t happen’ outweighs the ‘does’ and so on reflection is quite calming and reduces anxiety.

    Easier said than done I know :)

  8. Jordan says:

    Emilie I love that you wrote about your strategies for coping with anxiety – particularly your use of supplements! After reading Julia Ross’s The Mood Cure (highly recommend), and seeing a naturopathic doctor, I started amino acid therapy. I’ve found GABA supplements to be helpful with anxiety, too.

    I would add that in times of stress, your serotonin levels can easily become depleted. Taking melatonin supplements at night, or L-Tryptophan helps restore this essential “feel good” chemical (and keeps you from seeking out carbs instead..). Also, drinking Kava tea or valerian root has a natural calming effect. Sounds like you’re on top of the medicinal herbs so you’re probably familiar with those:)

    Releasing endorphins into your body through regular exercise is important. Also:
    1. Connecting with nature. Go kayaking, put your feet in the soil, go on a hike. Ground yourself. Even 20 min. can help.
    2. Pets! Dogs are amazing at lowering your blood pressure.
    3. Creative outlets. One thing I’m working on is remembering to keep my energy flowing OUT, especially creative energy. I can easily get too stuck “in my head” which can cause anxiety to mushroom into even worse feelings. Whatever your creative outlet is – painting, making jewelry, carving wood, making music – it’s so good to get lost in whatever that is for you, and to stay connected to beauty. Worries will subside :)

  9. Kate says:

    Hi Emilie, thanks for your post on this topic. I’m 45 and I’ve had a relationship with GAD since I was a teenager. I’m also highly sensitive (as defined by the work of Elaine Aron). I love learning and researching and have invested a lot of time and effort understanding the nature of GAD and high sensitivity and exploring the connection between the two. While the symptoms of GAD can often be debilitating, as I get older I can see how my experiences with it have made me a more resilient and compassionate person.

    Acceptance is the key in my experience. It’s as simple and *not* easy as that. I practice letting go of wanting my life to be different or wanting my symptoms to go away. It takes courage and persistence though, especially if you prefer to manage it medication-free which is my preference.

    The national broadcaster in Australia, the ABC, started running a week of programming on mental health last year and ran it again this year. Hopefully this continues and ramps up over time.

    I’d love to contribute further to any future projects/posts on this topic.

  10. Lauren says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m new to anxiety. It surfaced this year for the first time back in January and I’ve recently gone through another tough spell. I like to think I’m starting to “get the hang of it”, but anxiety is a tricky bastard. It’s fascinating, annoying, scary, ever-changing and leaves me with many, many questions I want answers to. I also get incidents when I’m hungry; I now know that’s a trigger for me. It was comforting for me to read that you went through a three week period of anxiety. In the beginning, I felt as though I should snap out of it right away. I now know my brain doesn’t work that way and it takes a few weeks, and that’s okay. That’s normal. That’s me. That realization is a tough one to deal with, so it’s great to read I’m not the only one (who is also a multipotentialite!) :)

  11. ok so… i hope this wont be too long,
    i was exposed to your talk in ted just now, i admit- didnt know you before,
    and- wow!! so accurate! it is so comforting to see that someone says in words acxactly what i am! and that its ok… and there are more people like me :)
    (excuse my misspelling occasionaly, im a hebrew speaker first)
    second, i also suffer a lot from this visitor we call anxiety on a daily basis and it is an on going hard war against it- especialy when i have so many iterests and things that i do in my life!(i am a chinese medicine therapist, i study acting- finally! i’m a single mom for two kiddos, i play the violin and guitar, i draw and creat many artcrafts and so on…- and im good at whatevr it is i do :))
    so i am highly identifying with what you write- and you write it so damn well!
    p.s. i also stop to identify that enxiety thought and move on, it does help very much!
    thank you so much for being :)

  12. Ana says:

    Hi Emilie,

    today I join Puttytribe and I have to said that do to my anxiety issues I’m completely lost in there: What if I don’t meet anyone, or no one comes and talk to me, what I’m goin to said if they come and talk?

    I read your article last night before bedtime, it was a bad idea, I related to many of the things you said and then I was anxious, I couldn’t relax and them I was worried about being late today and can not enter the tribe in time and what if I did get in, wk«hat I would said?

    Well one problem at the time, I’m in … now what? Honestly anxiety extreme.

    Thank you for your article and for putting in writing what I’m feeling and the possible solutions for the problem.

    Best wishes,
    Ana

  13. Taylor Leedahl says:

    Multipotentialite-related anxiety … I experience a lot of anxiety about having multiple projects open at once. I work on one while feeling guilty that others haven’t been completed. Example, I’m editing a music video that I spent two days shooting and love what I’m working on, but I can’t stop thinking about those lingering interview questions about my interest in insects or the swath of leather I recently purchased to make shoes or the grant report that’s due. It slows down everything.

    New strategy: Write down all the projects I have open on the chalkboard wall, this way I can take them out of my head and place them elsewhere. It’s similar to a to-do list, but has not directive … just a gentle reminder. I made a second area for recently completed projects for encouragement.

  14. Prithivi says:

    Hey Emilie – This is what I discovered to handle anxiety – “Cognitive reframing”, aka trick your mind – give it a skewed perception. I am a multipotentialite and an ENFP. I can creatively come up with list of things to worry ;-).

    Check this out. It is part of “you are not so smart” series YANSS by psychology nerd David McRaney.

    How to turn your fears and anxieties into positivity and productivity with cognitive reframing (http://youarenotsosmart.com/2015/10/14/yanss-60-how-to-turn-your-fears-and-anxieties-into-positivity-and-productivity-with-cognitive-reframing/).

    Cheers
    Prithivi

  15. Karen says:

    Great article – and definitely a perspective post-Paris that we can all benefit from. I’ve also struggled with anxiety most of my life, and it can catch me out in so many ways. I agree that there is quite likely a gut connection for many of us – which makes sense to me when you consider that the gut is our “second brain”. Meditation has also helped me tremendously, as has noticing – becoming aware of my thoughts and stepping back ad observing them is golden. Recently though, over the past year I suppose, I’ve seen the most significant shift in myself to a place of far greater peace than I’ve ever experienced before. And it’s all related to 2 things – firstly going beyond noticing and actually examining what my core beliefs are. Once I am aware of a belief I can decide whether I chose to continue to believe it or not. Using EFT/Tapping to process beliefs has created great change. The other thing that’s been really significant, and maybe it sounds too “simple” or corny, but it has been learning to love myself. To value myself and my worth much more highly and to practice radical self care. My new mantra has become “What would someone who loves themselves do in this situation”. That, along with “It’s only a thought and a thought can be changed” are making a really big difference to my life.

  16. Nicole says:

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much for writing and sharing this… and opening it up to others’ comments.

    Thank you thank you thank you.

  17. Christopher banks says:

    When I get anxious and it happens a lot like you said for big or small things, I find a walk outside helps. Its never good to feel anxiety and stay within four walls. For me at least that would make me feel trapped or closed in. A walk in fresh air with deep breaths helps me.

    A couple months ago I came off my anxiety tablets and I’m going through withdrawal. But I am keeping my chin up and my partner and friends helps where they can

    Anxiety stops me from doing a lot and believe me soooo mangy things I want to do. I am in a battle but I have believe I will win the war

    I

    • Hi Emilie,
      Thank you for the follow up message on Anxiety.
      I also want to thank Jonathon Knepper, your Director of Tribe Happiness.
      His note to me this week was very helpful and a great tool in helping keep my focus.
      With regard to Anxiety, I am sure many multipods each have their own way of self-management and mind relaxing techniques. Your suggestions provide yet another window into fulfillment of purposeful tasks and exercises in mindful endurance.

      A few years ago I had such anxiety I thought I was having a heart attack. After an overnight stay in the hospital and a lot of testing, I found out it was anxiety. The stress of unemployment, broken relationships with my adult kids and their drama, my mother dying and many other typical life moments and challenges. My doctor suggested I try taking some anti anxiety medication. I have been on and off that medication for a while now and it really helps. I think we all are like small chemistry labs walking around and everything that is thrown into the mix it’s like waiting for the cause and effect of each thing added. It’s only keeping a careful balance that helps keep me focused.

      I have not been diagnosed but have been told by many that I may be ADDHD.
      I also believe this to be true because I have sooo much energy all day and I crash hard in the early evening. I can only feel a calm come over me when I snuggle up in my bed with a stack of blankets on top of me, I wear a hoody sweatshirt to bed in winter to keep my ears warm and I peek out only a little of my face to feel the cool fresh air.

      My day begins at 3 or 4 am. I have neck and back injuries from years of demolition work I did as a very young man, so i can only sleep 4 to 6 hours and my body tells me it is time to get up, stretch and move around to keep from being totally stiff and in pain all day.

      Your message made me think of how my mind is constantly pushing me and running hundreds of thoughts past my logic receiver and challenging my ability to act or respond to any of them. I keep so busy trying to keep up that my only resolve at times is to do the following: I stop, stand still, close my eyes, I focus on the things that mean the most to me, I gather a picture in my mind, an image of my loved ones, I say a quiet prayer and ask for wisdom, understanding and God’s peace to fill my mind and calm my spirit. This works for me almost every time. Letting go brings clarity to a mind bottled up with too many chemicals, focusing on the balance of chemistry, meditation, and rest are what works for me.

      I hope this helps others.

      Take care

      Tomas

  18. Olga says:

    Anxiety, yes. Always questioning myself, never too sure. I’m going through a painful break-up at the moment, so anxiety is a dear friend.

    Whenever I feel too anxious, I take the classic Max Luscher color test. (here’s one online I found in English http://kahome.eu/cgi-bin/lschr.pl) Getting evaluation and reading about my current emotional state somehow makes me feel better and more normal. Even when I’m reading that I’m borderline suicidal, it still calms me down for some reason.

  19. Fred says:

    I find hard prolonged exercise such as walking, running, biking works. Noting is good as you mentioned, but note things as I walk and just mentally say whatever comes into your view; mailbox, road, white line, tree, bush, grass, sky, cloud, dog, car..etc. faster the better.

  20. Kelli says:

    The last thing I want to do is make anyone more anxious, but before rushing out to buy GABA to calm your anxiety, please consider reading chapter 15 in “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?” by Dr. Datis Kharrazian. This post offers a quick summary of the main points: https://www.facebook.com/ThyroidInfo/posts/542105099203102

    Excerpt from link above:
    “If you take GABA and feel a response, this is indicative of a ‘leaky’ blood brain barrier. If the large GABA molecule can get into your brain, so can environmental toxins, proteins from food, and even bacteria. This is not good, and you should seek help from a functional medicine practitioner who can help you with this ASAP. Taking more GABA won’t fix it, even though you feel better!”

    • Emilie says:

      Yep.

      “I began supplementing with herbs and vitamins that increase levels of GABA in the brain”

      Precursors and co-factors, that’s all I use.

      • Kelli says:

        Hi Emilie, thanks for highlighting that. Supplementing with precursors and co-factors is the most beneficial way to raise GABA. You’re doing it the right way by working with a functional medical doctor.

        I was concerned for the DIY health enthusiasts out there (myself included) who may not realize that taking GABA instead of the precursors and co-factors may cause more harm that good in the long run. (I happily popped a whole bottle of GABA before I came across this info).

  21. Nitsan says:

    Hi,
    This blog post came just in time for me. I’m leaving tonight on a documentary shooting trip to Africa (documentary film making my most recent uptake). Ever since I agreed to join this project I’ve been extremely nervous, most days wishing it would be canceled due to reasons not in my control. I never thought of myself as someone with anxiety but now I think that maybe that’s what I’m experiencing. I worry about not getting the right footage but also about the food, the sanitary conditions of the place we are staying in (a remote village), side effects of malaria pills, about my kids at home missing important school or sport events, and so on and on….
    I don’t really have coping techniques beyond just going about preparing. I keep telling myself that once I’m there I will be fine. Maybe framing it all as anxiety will help.

  22. My first reaction to your post, Emilie, was some confusion on my part over the differentiation between stress and anxiety. I experience anxiety only in the context of stressful situations, and therefore I’ve probably used the terms interchangeably. However, your post prompted me to try to better understand the differences and I came across an article that does a good job of clarifying things: “The Difference Between Stress and Anxiety”, by Lindsay Holms (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/stress-anxiety-difference_n_4833172.html).

  23. Williesha says:

    I’m so excited you posted this as I just announced on my blog that I’m writing a book on dealing with anxiety as an entrepreneur! I have generalized anxiety and depression. I would love to talk with you further about this at some point. I know you’re super busy.

  24. Desiree says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Thanks for your post. I was sent here via your email newsletter which I’ve just received, which was timely. At around 2am I saw the news that the UK will start airstrikes on Syria. My already high levels of anxiety (and stress I might add) raised and I started to cry.

    Fortunately I had someone who I can speak with at the time, but I do need to find more people who are more understanding of what it’s like to be a highly sensitive person and a multipassionate. Feeling isolated can only make matters worse too.

    Thanks for sharing your stories and remedies. I’ve seen many recommendations for the Headspace app lately, I’m going to check it out now. Glad that the talk went okay.

    • Stella says:

      YES YES YES. I feel the same way about Syria and it made me cry too.

      I wish to thank Emilie for this post too, I’m going to London tomorrow for a Mandarin speaking competition and given the news I suddenly became anxious about it last night. The coping strategies you have mentioned sound extremely helpful and I will try them out, not only in this situation but also in my day to day life, where I find it hard sometimes to juggle everything without getting frazzled. Thank you ^-^

  25. Tus says:

    Im also meditating with headspace everyday, cant live without it :-)

  26. anna says:

    Hi Emilie
    Thanks for this post, it’s always so useful to hear how others cope. I had a diagnosis of Generalized and Social Anxiety disorders earlier this year (yay i got the set!) and my counsellor was really good. He suggested at first writing, and then moving to mentally, noting the worst that could happen, the best that could happen (‘she hates me and thinks i’m a waste of space’, ‘i’m useless’ etc etc) and then to note what the evidence for each situation is or might be and then reassess my feeling after this. the whole process takes about 10 mins at first (and not so useful at a party!but can be done at a later time) but i’ve got quicker and regularly short cut. I don’t use paper anymore, and i’m getting used to identifying the anxious thoughts as soon as they start to kick in, and substituting more rational thoughts. Believing them is the trick! but again i’m finding this getting easier too. Hard work but it’s like having a bad headache lift!

  27. Patrick Stingley says:

    I’m 58, so I’ve had twice as long to deal with this problem. Here are a few of my findings:
    1. Everything is worse at 3:00 in the Morning. I have found that the worries that happen between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning destroy my much needed sleep and make it harder to deal with the stress the next day.

    There’s a famous Zen question: What is the sound of one hand clapping? I have heard that the answer is 4:00 in the morning. Maybe they were on to something. Maybe that worry at 4:00 in the morning is as unproductive as one hand clapping. There is no resolution, so move on.

    2. Some of us run hot. In other words, because of the constant distraction of being able to do multiple things, being angry or stressed provides focus and direction that overcomes the multi potentate paralysis. There are a number of problems associated with this approach, but it’s an approach that can work without drugs.

    3. I have become religious in recent years, so sometimes I sit back and say “It’s the will of God…Let’s just sit back and see how this works out”. Regardless of your views of religion, most world views include this pattern. I have found it helps.

    All the best,

    Patrick

  28. Lynn says:

    In addition to what you are doing, I found these help: EFT Tapping (physically changes the brain and anxiety producing hormones), Rescue Remedy (a Bach flower essence), staying away from fluorescent lights, being near plants and water fountains. These are all DIY.

    Massage, having someone run your Bars, a Matrix Energetics session, a Reconnection session help rebalance your system.

  29. Raquel says:

    Thanks for the great post! I deal with some crippling anxiety and the best thing any of us can do is break the silence, so thank you! I’m going through the worst bout I’ve had in some time and finding it really difficult to come back to earth and reading your post put a little more water over the fire. I wonder if being a multipotentialite is a breeding ground for anxiety? Also what supplements do you take.

  30. Lea cox says:

    Thanks for email reminder to visit. This is a subject that prompt me to get a MS in counseling.
    My vocation is research so I wanted to know why myself and so many experience anxiety.
    I could say I was born with a trait with neurological property lending to it.
    Caffeine incite anxiety, social occasion and it could be a innate fear for unknown possibilities.
    One theory of mine we represent the 25% of population highly creative,sensitive to loud sounds ,light,violence, horror,label on clothes, TV, wars, injustice,cruelty etc. we are subconsciously aware of turmoil in the world, pollution and our hearts are deeply offended by it.
    As human beings we are connected with all that exist, some can silence their inner feelings or accept them, learned to justify that a higher power is in charge or all has a reason to be.
    I am a humanist and existentialist who wants do good and I strive for that.

    In the end I have lived with anxiety and accepted it, I found classical music has a frequency that calms my mind same with choirs.
    I walk out well dressed positive and smile with intention to benefit others. I enjoy meeting new people. Learned to dismiss negative thoughts and change them, being in the now helps reduce anxiety, train the brain to go to a place where you feel safe. Give up your will knowing you done your best.
    Have faith in whatever you chose as a universal consciousness and love we all have in our heart.
    When we lose faith in humanity and ourselves fears rise.
    Courage compassion and love are powerful .
    Our mental disorders are mostly rooted in our spiritual imbalance lack of knowledge of our innate power within our hearts and minds. The essence of who we are is not to be defined.
    We know intuitively and need to learn to appreciate ourself and others more.
    I hope this helps someone.
    Thanks for opportunity.
    Lea

  31. Roberta says:

    OMG! Thank you Emilie! This is so inspiring! It gives me a sense of relief to know that I’m not alone! It’s incredible how I can relate to each single post by finding a little bit of myself in them. Anxiety is definitely a tricky bastard but as somebody already said, I get so much support by all of you just but sharing our personal experiences. And thank you everybody for sharing such inspiring links about Personality tests (just found out I’m a INFT), psychology stuff & lots more!Thank you so much!

  32. Erica says:

    Thanks for sharing. It is nice to know that we aren’t the only person dealing with anxiety. I meditate (coloring, dancing or walking as well as stillness type). I have found that when I’m anxious to check my decision making with HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) if possible I will delay a decision until these are absent. Just an idea that may help.

    • Helen says:

      Hi Erica,
      I’ve never heard the acronym HALT before – brilliant! Although I worked out a while ago if I’m feeling anxious or blue for no rational reason then I need to eat, sleep and exercise.
      I really struggle with decision making, I have a lot of anxiety around it, before, during and after. I wonder now if this is part of being a multipod – there are so many things I want to do and am interested in that often decisions seem like I’m limiting myself.
      I will try to remember HALT so I’m in a good frame of mind for decision making.
      Many Thanks!

  33. Tim says:

    Emilie, thanks for hitting this subject with no apology. Thanks also for the TED talk that helped me find words and a community that fit who I have been for years. I am currently unemployed, which has it’s own significant list of anxieties.
    Two thoughts to add to the already amazing discussion:
    1. When one recognizes the presence of anxiety, I agree that noting it (as you said) is key. I heard someone (I seriously wish I could remember who) say that when they recognize anxiety/fear is present, they have a boundaries type conversation with that presence. The conversation goes something like this: “Anxiety, I recognize your presence, and I want you to know that I have benefitted from your care of me in the past. I appreciate your intention to protect me. But right now, in this situation, you are not needed, nor are you welcome. I am turning my back on you right now, and you must leave.”
    The conversation doesn’t seek to eradicate, but to assure the emotion that it is heard. It also makes it clear that the intent is good, but misplaced and the timing is wrong.
    I think emotions, feelings, etc. might not be all that intelligent, but it is entirely possible that they can be trained. We are the teachers. We are the only ones capable of instructing our own anxiety on what is it’s beneficial place in our life.
    2. Taylor Leedahl commented that writing the must-do list on the chalkboard is helpful. May I suggest prioritizing the list, and only allowing yourself to focus on the top 3 – 5. The purpose of the REST of the list is just to remind you of what does NOT get to hijack brain or emotional energy right now.
    Thanks Emilie for the website, the post, and this needed discussion.
    Tim

  34. David says:

    Emilie – aside from the recommendations in the above thread I recommend you see a physician re: your anxiety. A mild subscription of anti-anxiety medication will make a huge difference. Fresh air and meditation are great – but there is a chemical imbalance and your body may need a slight tweak over and above any holistic remedies.

    Good Luck…………David

  35. Amy says:

    Hi. I suffer from anxiety too. Mine is related to a genetic mutation I and my family carry. Its called MTHFR, and it relates folate metabolism and to so many body systems that it would be silly to name them all.

    Experts in the field of genetics that 1/3 Caucasians have at least one mutation for methylation in this country. They say 1/5 of every citizen in this country has two mutations.
    So its super common. And it has been affecting me my whole life without my knowing about it until recently.
    Since my diagnosis which came about via a blood test, I have been taking a body ready folate (methylfolate) and methylcobalamin and it has changed my life.
    Now anxiety is a whisper and not a shout. Now that I take this supplement I realize I have spent most of my life in a state of fight or flight and prioritizing based on what I could manage in that crisis mode from my limited resources. I have been inside a box no one else could see, and the didn’t understand why I did what I did.
    I have anxiety still. Mostly its mild and ussually when I am due for a dose of methylfolate, when I eat a carb heavy meal which affectively uses up folate or my blood sugar is allowed to spike, or if I cheat on my diet and eat enriched flour which contains folic acid I can not metabolize and impedes my ability to absorb other types of folate.
    I have new abilities now. I stretch my arms outside the historic boundaries of my box and find myself able to manage situations and tasks which overwhelmed me before. All because I now have what I need.
    Thanks for reading.
    Amy

    • Lea cox says:

      Thanks Amy for information on Folate, will do some research and may even take a test to check me out. Trait anxiety has been recognized within families.
      Take care

      • Amy says:

        You are welcome :)
        Until I was 37 I was trying all the other things mentioned and they helped some times. Having this piece was a game changer.

  36. Kristan says:

    I completely relate to this post, Emilie! I’m sorry you experience this almost crazy-making behavior like me. It’s frustrating! The only way I’ve managed mine so far is medication and avoidance (I worry incessantly about things on the news, so I’ll just rush to change the channel when a hot button topic starts).

    I have GOT to take up meditation because I know it’s helpful. That’s the first thing everyone always recommends. I just never make the time to do it. Hmmm, a New Year’s resolution??

    Thanks for sharing this part of you – you’re the best!
    ~Kristan

  37. Gaby says:

    Hi Emilie!
    I had to comment because I also deal with general anxiety and understand how debilitating it can be at times. A couple of years ago I had what felt like a panic attack on the freeway during rush hour, I knew I had to do something about it.
    I found that one of the most effective tactics for me to quiet anxiety was grounding. It’s very simple and I believe it’s taught in some yoga classes. Basically while you’re having anxious thoughts put your feet flat on the ground and feel your feet touching the ground. What you’re doing is taking yourself out of your own head with future based thoughts and into the physical world and into the present. Why this works is because the anxiety is based on future negative thoughts that don’t exist in your present time reality. Example: you have a job interview and thoughts of doing poorly at the interview pop up before you even have a chance to prepare to do well.
    Grounding helps to get out of one’s own repetitive thought process and into the physical and present world. In the present is where you have opportunity to alter the “negative” future.
    I don’t mean to sound too “new agey,” it’s just the best way I can explain it. All the best!

  38. Sarah says:

    Hi,
    I work in therapy, mainly around the subsconscious aspect of the mind which is the part that stores all our long-term memories, beliefs and habits, and while I have not done the research to evidence this (yet), I do see qualitative evidence from my clients who suffer from anxiety that anxiety is linked to high sensitivity, heightened moral responsibility (those who take on responsibility beyond their control) and a higher IQ (constant internal thoughts, need to be intellectually engaged). I’d be curious to know what others think about these three factors.

    • Lea cox says:

      Sarah
      I do agree with you, have read similar opinion from others.Trauma experienced and even forgotten may still affect us. I was my own case study in many ways while studying for MS in counseling. It did open my eyes in respect to those factors. I do fit your description.
      Had to learn to slow down, evaluate, before making decisions.

      Have you had experience using neuro biofeedback with clients or read any results ?

      Thanks

  39. Louie says:

    Thanks for speaking to a really important topic, one that “dare not speak its name!” I’ve been dealing with anxiety for most of my life, and specifically with GAD and a panic disorder since college . . . 25 years now. I took (still take) meds, but mostly, I just “pushed my way through it” and racked up a number of accomplishments in the wake. Part of the reason I created my own company was because I didn’t know how I would be able to pull off working regular hours for someone else. But as life seems to go, things work until they don’t work. I have found at least that I can’t run away from stuff forever (via whatever distraction of choice . . . drugs, alcohol, video games, shopping, TV, romance, work, etc.). I’m now “on sabbatical” (a fortunate temporary position to be in) and I’m dedicating myself to better understanding and working with my anxiety/panic and “making friends” with these entities (much easier said than done). I wish there were a silver bullet answer, but I don’t think there is. I’ve seen a lot of good suggestions in this article and in the comments. I’ve discovered some things that work for me (meditation, journaling, countering negative “inner critic” talk, keeping an ongoing appreciation list, counseling, support groups, exercise, etc.). I think finding ways to manage anxiety is a very individual endeavor, so I recommend trying different things to see what works for you. Best of luck to those of you (us) who face an anxiety challenge and find ways to persevere! :)

    • Lauren says:

      Acute Panic Disorder for seven years, starting age 17. Defeated through stubbornness and pride by exhaustive research – no drugs, no help. It would have been a much faster recovery if I had shared with another person. Any person.

      GAD for a few more years than PD, resulting in chronic chest pain and avoidance of anything causing elevated heart rate (goodbye, exercise). Recently pronounced myself cured through diaphragmatic breathing training, exercise, and a healthy dose of trying to give fewer f*cks about things that can’t be helped.

      I’m feeling much empathy with everyone here. All the smartest people I know are anxious. We still manage to kick serious butt.

  40. Hannah says:

    First off, you’re fantastic Emilie, don’t ever forget it!

    Secondly, this post definitely needed to be written. While my anxiety is relatively mellow compared to yours, I have recently drawn a lot of lines to it being characteristic of my multipod tendencies. Particularly, I remember when I was around 17 and the end of high school was coming up, I had points of manic anxiety for months because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My goal oriented nature and vast interests were conflicting with social expectations and it sure was volatile for my brain!

    All that being said, Sarah (just above me) makes a great point about the correlations she’s seen with anxiety. I personally can relate to self inflicted anxiety by trying to talk on more responsibility than I should as well as constant wheels turning.

    I think one of the best things anyone can do with mild, moderate, or severe anxiety, is keep themselves engaged and focused. It’s in down time that I notice my brain is allowed to have the anxious thoughts. But if I’m focused and engaging my mind in something else, there isn’t room or time or opportunity for anxious thoughts to develop.

    Even something as simple as reading a book can help me. Just make sure you’re actively reading, not passively reading. Take the time to form the images and words and characters in your mind and you won’t have any space for other thoughts.

  41. Brandi says:

    Hi Emilie!

    You’re not alone! =) For me, the one constant for dealing with my anxiety has been exercise. Yoga offers that lovely grounding feeling, but a cardio or weight lifting workout that leaves me sweating and my muscles delightfully sore is what works when things get especially overwhelming. If I don’t start the day with a workout, the rest of the day is filled with anxiety, stress, and that frustrated funk. Whatever works for YOU is the right thing!

    Congratulations on the success of your talk!!

  42. Emile,

    Well said! As a guy who suffers from hereditarily predisposed anxiety and depression I can verify a few things and add some of my own. To preface, I’m a rock climbing, trail running, city bicycle riding, adrenalin infused dude… But put me on a plane and my chemicals get all messed up and I have serious bouts of anxiety.

    GABA and also 5HTP SUPPLEMENTS WORK. They don’t really supplement but rather train your brain to rewrite itself to the natural antistree and sleep processes so they are much better than a bunch of excess Chemicals pumped in by other supplement options.

    HEADSPACE APP IS AWESOME.

    Basic yoga moves, even on the plane after you tell the flight crew wtf you are doing haha is amazing, leg stretching and twists encourage blood flow and stimulate your vital organs to release compounds and proteins vital to the reduction of anxiety symptoms.

    Thanks for this post. Once again puttylike had made me feel like I’m in a big group rather than a Lone Ranger.

    Peace and high fives to all.

  43. Terry says:

    After reading your article, I realized that the anxiety I experience has a lot to do with my creativity and curiosity.

    I find myself continually distracted with a new or better idea. It’s a source of inspiration but at the same time a significant distraction.

    It is the same with learning new subjects – I get very involved in learning something new until I get distracted by something newer and more exciting.

    It raises the question – am I creative and curious because it relieves the anxiety, or do I experience anxiety because I’m creative and curious?

  44. Clint Moar says:

    Agreed, awesome that you’ve brought up Mental Illness here Emilie.
    I, at 42 years old, discovered I experience a form of ADD minus the hyperactivity. Not so much the worry from anxiety but more the amazing speed of my brain and how the number of thoughts are extremely draining.

    This is probably topic for another time, though I did forward you a Multipotentialite Breadwinner Parent with ADD piece back on Oct. 29 (don’t feel guilty about not replying and engagement here, you’re human!)

    If I could offer anything to others…
    recommend the book “10% Happier” by Dan Harris – a funny intro to meditation, work, relationships, brains and real self help for all. Short and entertaining.

    Also have and soon to read “Why Isn’t My Brain Working”- Datis K. Expect more detail and depth.

    Would love to discuss and share my thoughts and experiences with ADD more as well.
    We must bring stress, anxiety, mental illnesses and these situations to the forefront now to help each other.

    Thanks much.
    Clint Moar.

  45. Anaiyah says:

    Emilie,

    I wrote you an email today after I got notification on your blog post. I’m totally blown away because I just posted my first blog on anxiety the other day. I have been receiving some great feedback from my viewers. There really isn’t that much written on mental illness as you say, so this is a little piece of gold. I have for the first time am treating my anxiety. My naturopath just put me on 200mg of Zen. Not sure if you have heard of it, but it’s been really helping these past few days. I’m so happy to have found your website, saw your talk, and now following your blog.

    Best wishes to you, and thanks!

  46. Niklas Goeke says:

    Thank you Emilie for sharing your thoughts!

    My day-to-day anxiety has mainly been revolving around paying the bills for the past year, but I’m slowly coming to grips with it.

    When a stressful event occurs and adds on to the anxiety, as you described, I like to do this little exercise:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nnBZkS-DO4

    I just take a piece of paper, write down my biggest fear of the day, and rip it apart. I try to think of the worst thing that could go wrong that day, for example receiving negative feedback, missing a deadline, or disappointing my girlfriend. Then I rip that piece of paper apart like it’s nothing.

    And that makes me feel a lot better.

    Hope this is helpful and keep up the good work!

  47. Catherine Chisnall says:

    I definitely get anxious about life, its worse since I had a child though. What if she gets hurt or kidnapped or ill? Its more focusing on her now than myself and what might happen to me. So that’s good in one way I suppose..!

    I agree meditation is a big help and so are supplements.

  48. Stefano says:

    Hi all,
    Thanks Emilie!
    To share something that has already been cited elsewhere in this site: Pomodoro Technique (google it and see the short video presentation).
    It solves many things related to time management, but if we look at it from the anxiety point of view it’s addressing one particular problem multipods so often face:
    1) I have many things to do (anxiety)
    2) If I focus on this one too long…
    3) I can’t focus on this other one…
    4) So I pretend to be multitasking (but that’s not true)
    5) So I spend 10 seconds for each interest…
    6) But I realise that it does not work (10 seconds are not enough!)
    7) I have to focus longer… and I fall onto step 2
    8) Catch 22

    Small solution with Pomodoro Technique:
    1) focus 25 minutes on one thing, forcing yourself to push away the desire to divert the focus
    2) take a 5 minutes break
    3) restart focusing on another thing
    It’s common experience among technique users that 25 minutes is the right balance between “too long” and “too short”, just try it.

    This helped me a lot with anxiety.

    Stefano

  49. Drea says:

    Hey Emilie,

    thanks for sharing your approach to anxiety with us. I myself felt quite anxious most of my life until now, but a few months ago i managed to make 90% of it disappear.

    Here is my approach:

    1. Understand how the anxiety manifests in my body and mind. (To be able to identify it quickly)

    // for me: stomach ache and digestion problems; tension in my left shoulder; irregular breathing; sweating aso.

    2. Understand the kind of anxiety it is (what is the trigger)

    // for me it was the fear to be rejected from people, especially by groups of people. And the fear to fail in what i’m doing, in my projects.

    3. Understand where that anxiety comes from (in my past)

    // for me it was having been or felt rejected as a child and teenager in different contextes, especially in group situations. And to be loved only when i was successful at school etc.

    3. Embrace that special past one had and understand that this [whatever] has had nothing to do with oneself

    // for me: children rejected me because i was shy or just “different”. so that’s normal and it’s not because i was or am wrong. and: people love me because of what i am and not only if i am perfect.

    4. Love yourself

    as soon as one loves oneself at 100 %, without “ifs” and “buts”, anxiety related to oneself disappears (fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of loss etc.)

    5. Love and embrace life

    as soon as one fully embraces life and the world, without distinguishing between “good” and “bad”, without rating, anxiety related to what could happen (war, robbery, …) disappear.

    If I am in a special situation and getting e. g. stomach ache, I just embrace it like a friend (thanks for being here and make me understand things better). Then, meditation and breathing is always a good solution, but requires some discipline. I’m doing yoga in the morning before special events in which i could feel anxious, to feel great in my body and mind (feel love for the world and myself) and then things work just great.

    Then it’s just about repeating these steps until they are fully internalized.

    I managed to make disappear my lactose intolerance (“genetic”) like that.

    All the best and thanks for your great input
    Drea

  50. john says:

    Therapy (specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) under the guidance of a professional was effective but when I found out I was going to be a father, my anxiety skyrocketed. So, I asked for a more expedient method. At the risk of being unpopular, Sertraline (aka Zoloft) has been amazing. I no longer worry about everything all of the time, I fall asleep faster because I’m not consumed by thoughts, my thoughts don’t spiral out of control, etc. Pharmaceuticals aren’t the right approach for everyone, but I have found it to be extremely effective and well worth it.

  51. Margarita says:

    What a great post! I couldnt stop reading it. Your suggestions are right on and specially meditation which is communion with God or our higher being to keep us calm. Tunning down/out the negative news really helps. Concentrating on good and doing good raises cosmic energy in the world.

  52. Brian says:

    I am always amazed at how you are so upfront and personal, Emilie…amazing. I too have always suffered from anxiety, though of a different kind. I have always thought that my mental health issues–though huge challenges–may be what has helped to separate me from an “ordinary” person. My battle with them has thought me different ways to think, new ways to look at things and has made me have to find alternative ways around things in life. I like to think they have led me to a richer and more fulfilling life.

  53. mayanne says:

    Dear Emilie,
    Thank you for the lovely, heartfelt, and generous post. Your experiences of anxiety are shared by many, I feel, including myself. I live in Paris, was up all night the night of the attacks texting, facebooking, calling people to make sure they were okay. I had to fly to the States hours later. I felt anxiety leaving my friends and my beloved Paris. I worried about what I would find once I reached my aging parents’ home in the States. So, I focused on the kindness and compassion of the people around me. We were all in this together, we would help each other, no one would have to face this alone. A calmness settled over me, something I never experienced before. I simply trusted those I encountered… the airline employee who suggested a hotel and helped book a flight when I missed my connection, the last flight to Austin; the lady at the information booth who helped me call a hotel; the people at the hotel who breached protocol so I could use my parents’ points to pay for the room on the spot; etc. I repeated a mantra… “Everything is always working out for me” and I trusted. The anxiety disappeared. At least for the moment. :-)

    Thank you, again!

  54. Trinka says:

    Hi
    Anxiety comes up whenever I have to perform, even to introduce myself. Then struggle starts. Some time before already, when I know my turn comes, I start to feel that I’m loosing myself. I have done breathing (forcing myselt to continue relaxed breathing – for one minute and then often the anxiety goes away). There is not always a minute and I start talking and it comes – these moments are when I feel most ashamed. What I’ve noticed, when I start feelingg anxiety, i am not listening to others anymore. So I’ve tried to focus on others and not myself. I have tried wearing glasses – to narrow my view, not to see other, to kind of hide myself behind glasses; also using drinking, showing presentations, sometimes turning everyones attention to someone else. When I get to say something before my tur comes to perform, I don’t feel anxiety as I have kind of heard my voice already, everyone’s attention has already been on me. And jes, sometimes I’ve been ashamed. I’ll have a presentation to make in a month and I have no idea if I’m going to make myself total fool or be brilliant. And that’s a lot of fare.

  55. Andrea says:

    Emilie, I wish I had your capability to write down in such detail what strikes me…
    Many Thanks for doing it – as the number of posts may imply to you I am not the only grateful one.

    And here is the headword: gratefulness

    What do I do to work against anxiety? I recently (more than 90 days ago) started to write a gratefulness diary.

    Each day in the evening I write down one or two things for which I am grateful!

    It increases my mindfulness and my mental strength.

    Here are some examples:
    I am grateful for…

    August 4th: … the magic moments of singing – a spontaneous “happy birthday” for a colleague.

    August 13th: …for the fantastic falling stars I was enjoying to see with my family (the Perseids)

    September 2nd: … for the help I receive always when I ask a colleague (this is truly special in the company I work for)

    October 7th: … for the ability of relection.

    Now I am going to try the meditation and other tips given in all the great posts!

    THANKS!

  56. Alison Joy Willard says:

    Thanks for this post! I really appreciated you sharing something so personal, as well as what works for you to ease the anxiety.
    I too am really into nutrition and holistic approaches for managing mental wellbeing, and I have found some things that have worked very well.
    After referencing the book Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing, I decided to stop consuming coffee and tea. I have noticed a HUGE decrease in my symptoms for anxiety, depression, and premenstrual syndrome thanks to this choice alone.
    Also I tried out acupuncture for treatment of my symptoms, and that works wonders, especially in combination with Chinese herbs.
    Yoga is something that I also use to keep my emotions/mind in balance, which is very helpful!
    The free podcast Dharmapunx NYC by Josh Korda helps in educating me about anxiety, depression, etc with great tips for dealing with overwhelming emotions as well!?

  57. Emma says:

    Hi,

    These are all great techniques. I wanted to just add my perspective since most of what has been talked about here are psychological or mental/emotional techniques, and while those work well the deepest relief from anxiety that I have experienced has been from spiritual development rather than personal growth.

    What this amounts to is this: *even if the worst thing happens*, I will be OK. My soul is eternal and cannot be destroyed. Therefore my essential self will survive anything, just perhaps not in this body. I may suffer, but I have suffered many times before and will live through that as well. Now, this might sound like a rationalization and if you use it to try to “talk yourself out” of feeling anxious, it won’t work. The difference is that I’m not trying to avoid the anxiety, I’m actually accepting the fact that we control almost nothing of what happens to us in this life, and yet, we will still be OK if the worst happens.

    There have been many times in my life where I’ve lost things that were hugely important to me or that I thought I needed to be me, and what I discovered was what cannot be taken from me: my connection to the deeper reality of who we really are as spiritual beings. Therefore I can always return to that awareness and rest in that.

    Having that refuge is a huge relief. I don’t have to make life turn out OK all the time. I can accept that I will sometimes suffer, and I will make mistakes, and I will be in pain, and I will fuck shit up and have regrets and I may even get hit by a car tomorrow. But deep down I know I am OK and we are all OK. We can’t change the fact that life is uncertain. But we can be in constant connection with what IS certain, which is the underlying spiritual harmony of the Universe and our indelible place in it.

    Emma

  58. Thalia says:

    Emilie,

    I am a yoga instructor and intrigued by your post. I have worked with people with similar tendencies and have watched them heal or “unlearn” their mental habits. You are on your way to healing. Amazing way to put yourself out there and be vulnerable (the only space where true healing occurs) , and I am sure writing this post was therapeutic in and of itself. Best to you!

    Thalia M.

  59. Liz says:

    Emilie, thank you for this post! I can really relate to your experiences. I also experience anxiety, at times it has been so severe that it has interfered with my ability to eat and sleep. There was a time when I rapidly lost 20+ pounds because I couldn’t keep food down, and I was frequently waking up in the middle of the night with my thoughts racing and my heart pounding and was unable to fall back to sleep. Fortunately, it has been several years since my anxiety has been anywhere near that level.

    The number one most helpful thing for me in managing my anxiety has been working with a therapist skilled in using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat anxiety. The tools and skills I have learned in therapy have been so helpful. Things that felt completely overwhelming before now feel completely manageable. (Still unpleasant and uncomfortable, but definitely manageable.) I have been to several different therapists over the years, and found that CBT was by far the most helpful. It is unique in that it focuses less on the why and more one the what and how of dealing with problems. Instead of “Why do I feel this way?” CBT focuses on “What can I do differently? How can I change?” which I found led to faster and more lasting results. It also is intended to be time-limited and focuses on teaching you to “become your own therapist” so you can continue to apply the skills and tools you’re learning on your own after therapy ends. For those that might not be able to afford the cost of therapy or can’t find a therapist skilled in CBT near them, I would strongly recommend the book “Feeling Good” by David D. Burns, M. D. This is a book that my therapist recommended to me and it contains a lot of the same information and techniques that I learned in therapy.

    Number two for me is making self-care a priority. To me, this concept ties in with your #1 – meditation and #5 – eat/sleep. To me self-care encompasses all of the following:
    1. Making sure I get enough sleep every night. As a night owl who works at a corporate office job, this takes a lot a discipline. I have to consciously make an effort to go to bed early enough, but I find being consistently well-rested makes a world of difference in my mood.
    2. Avoiding caffeine. This was something suggested by my therapist, who said, “Instead of treating your anxiety by adding something, let’s try taking something away.” It was a concept that never occurred to me, and it blew my mind. I was a heavy coffee drinker, pumping my body full of stimulants every day and not thinking a thing of it! I sometimes miss the rush of energy and good feelings I would get from a good cup of coffee, but I don’t miss the jitteriness and highs and lows I used to feel. I feel much more even since I quit caffeine, and I believe quitting has definitely helped me manage my anxiety.
    3. Regular exercise. I believe this also helps to keep my mood more even. I do a short set of exercises 5 days a week as soon as I get up (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/?_r=0), and also try to go for a walk, hike, or jog for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week. Jogging definitely lifts my mood more than walking does (but due to issues with joint pain I often have to stick to walking).
    4. Eating healthy food. I’m still working on this one. I have a tendency to go right for the junk food when I am feeling anxious, but I have observed that after the initial enjoyment it generally makes me feel worse afterward. I’m trying to substitute healthier behaviors like going for a short walk or doing a few minutes of deep breathing.

    Thanks again, Emilie, for sharing your experiences and giving us all an opportunity to share our thoughts with each other!

  60. Eileen says:

    I was in a very dark place at one point in my early life yet it was soft, comfortable, and quiet except for the heartbeat. Then it changed. There was a light that grew larger and I saw a tunnel. It was the first time I felt anxious. Some uncontrollable force was pushing me toward it. Would I fit? Would it hurt? What would it be like? I understood later that this was birth and I’ve been anxious ever since. I’m actually a self-defined recovering Drama Queen. Twain was right that the things we worry about usually never happen. As I age this becomes even more apparent. I try to replace worrisome thoughts with anything else. That helps. Getting off my duff and doing something for someone else always helps too.

  61. Bryan says:

    Emilie and fellow Multipods,

    Very nice post Emilie. I know how hard it can be to share our personal experiences. I too suffer from many of the anxieties that you have described, although, I don’t feel them being as much of an intrusion in my life as you have related.

    Here’s a suggestion for yet another tool that can be used for dealing with anxiety for you and anyone who happens to read this comment to try. There is some controversy about its effectiveness, but if one finds it useful then this comment wasn’t for nothing. It’s called E.M.D.R. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Here’s the protocol:

    See a picture in your mind of an event or situation that makes you nervous
    -what is most likely to happen, not a worst case scenario.

    Envision the picture for about 5 seconds and be aware of your overall sense about it, what you feel, and or the level of anxiety you have about it.

    Push away the picture in your mind and don’t think about it.

    Do a set of 30 eye movements and concentrate on counting them……so while you do the eye movements you are counting each one. Be sure that your count of 30 is based on an eye movement that goes back and forth not just in one direction. So looking the left and then back to the right is one eye movement.

    *You can use your fingers as points to look back and forth from. They should be about arms length away and a little more than one foot apart. I’m not exactly sure how important the distance is.*

    Do 5 sets and then see how you feel about the original picture.

    I’ve tried this a couple times but not enough to give a personal account of its effectiveness. My dad, however, is a Men’s Therapist who uses this technique with his clients who have addiction issues and past trauma.

    Hope this proves useful to you or anyone else in this forum.
    Cheers!

    Bryan

  62. Gerard says:

    I was doing yoga for a while and it really helped keep me balanced. I haven’t really dealt much with anxiety as far as severity or frequency are concerned, but like many people, I get it sometimes. I only stopped yoga due to a condition that caused me tons of body pain, which has recently been diagnosed and is being treated. Can’t wait to get back to it.
    I slept better, had thoughts about things that aggravated me, but felt much less body tension accompanying the thoughts, started doing some creative/expressive writing, and felt more peaceful.
    I agree with Julia’s comment about accepting what is and moving on. Giving something attention gives it power. It takes consistent effort but it’s well worth it.

  63. Erin says:

    Hi Emilie!
    I’ve recently begun using Magnesium oil to help me deal with my own anxiety and insomnia, and it turns out that Magnesium is necessary for GABA receptor function. Applying a Magnesium solution to your skin (I bought some from Swanson Health Products) is more effective than taking supplements because it absorbs much more quickly into the bloodstream that way. Salt baths work as well! Most people are Magnesium deficient and suffer from things like anxiety, fatigue, high blood pressure, and depression because of it.

    Just thought I would share in hopes of helping others who are struggling and are looking for options outside of medication.

  64. Erin says:

    Hi Emilie,

    I’ve had anxiety too. I practice mindfulness and observe & describe.

    For me, mindfulness entails noticing what I’m feeling (physical discomfort, pleasure, relaxation, etc as well as any thoughts, feelings, and responses). It’s like your noting technique, except I additionally try to notice WHY it’s happening. This gives me valuable info for the future, so I can continue to modify my working model. I can do more of what brought me peace or happiness and I can minimize and/or process whatever brought me peace and happiness.

    With regards to observe and describe, I take regular breaks throughout the day to observe and describe. You can think of this as being like little, short bursts of very quick meditation, to sustain you through your day or to act as a rescue if anxiety starts to win. Sometimes even just 5 seconds is sufficient. I do it at many times as I want or need (I do it now as a habit, probably at least a dozen times in any given day). To me, observe and describe means stopping to use any and all of my senses to notice my environment. The air on my face. The textures clouds in the sky. The smell of the evergreen trees. The taste of the gun in my mouth. The sound of a car in the distance. Notice and observe ANYTHING you want to. You’ll find how much there is around you to enjoy and give you amusement. Quickly come up with a description for whatever it is you observe. Crisp. Stale. Fluffy. Dramatic. Woody. Minty. Rough. Brown. Whatever adjectives come to mind. I say them quietly to myself (or hey, you can say them out loud – whatever does the trick). It’s like a 5 second meditative reset button. It works! You may find yourself doing it all the time if necessary. That’s fine. I’ve noticed it seems to reduce my baseline in general when I use it regularly, over an extended period of time. I find myself noticing lovely bits of my environment even when I don’t feel I need it. That’s even better because it gives an uplifting boost to an already good situation.

    I enjoyed reading your tips too. I’ll give them a try. Some of them resonated with me and I suspect they’ll be useful.

  65. Ellen says:

    It’s fantastic everyone who is participating in commenting has had positive experiences proactively seeking solutions and journeying toward a better balance for themselves!! What a great reminder that the “feelings” or “emotions” that we experience are as valid as the weather – that we need to tune in and form a response like the human animals that we are :) We have a much larger amount of ‘control’ over our autonomic nervous systems, then the medical industry, and particularly pharmaceutical industry, would like us to believe. Trying to decipher (or noting) what our bodies and minds are telling us – as it relates to our daily journey, is not only important, but critical for survival and positive evolution. Imagine if we were so insulated from the natural world, that we only ate processed protein bars, and stopped having a relationship with real, growing plants / fruits / vegetables. Actually, this is a reality for a lot of modern folks. Taking a step back to realize how far disconnected we are from our natural environment, and how great our “anxiety” is, in correlation to that distance, can often be the first step on the path back towards a better feeling homeostasis! Congrats to all the awesome humans on here for taking positive steps, and striving to utilize your potentials to make life better!! Let’s continue to be mindful of our words, and make sure that we see anxiety as a message, or warning, that we may be out of balance, instead of a chronic condition. If it has become something that is a chronic condition for you, please keep working towards bridging back to enabling yourself to feel anxiety only when you need the message to stop and reflect! Thank you!!

  66. Renske Erin says:

    Sooooo I put off reading this post although I really wanted to. Something to do with a full inbox and a voice going: DO ALL THE THINGS OR YOU HAVE FAILED. So. I read the post, and I love it :) Thanks for this. So many people nowadays suffer from related things. I also looked through the comments (voice: YOU CANNOT COMMENT YOURSELF WITHOUT READING EVERYTHING – WHAT WILL THEY THINK IF YOU SAY SOMETHING THAT WAS ALREADY MENTIONED), there are some awesome suggestions there! I myself use herbal supplements when I can’t (read won’t) take the time to deal properly with the anxiety that comes up. I also fare well with extra magnesium by the way! And calcium. Not a fan of dairy (even though I am Dutch…) so my calcium is low. And being hungry and sleepy certainly makes everything worse.I do have to say that everything with a set schedule – regular meditation or taking supplements – can increase my anxiety, oh the irony, because I am soooo bad at following schedules.

    And I do have a suggestion for dealing with anxiety. I was in the career counseling trajectory recently – insert very long story about recognizing multipodness, identity crises etc. – and the coach suggested I read up on voice dialogue. This has changed everything. So talking to yourself to get to know the many you’s (very short explanation). It is a technique that has made it so much easier to deal with the screaming voice that says EVERYTHING IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE. I recognize the effort not to identify with the anxiety and go: hey – there you are anxiety, how lovely of you to drop by. But what has actually helped me take the next step is to re-identify myself with the anxiety.

    Now it is more like: hey anxiety – who is a part of me and whom I met first in my childhood and who has always had the best intentions of trying to keep me from harm by making sure there is no bigger bully out there – tell me what you think of this situation.
    Anxiety gets a change to yell all the things at my me’s-manager. My me’s-manager then allows my other me’s to chime in. For example: rational me, lazy me, whoever also has an opinion. Than I move on.

    This technique has been very helpful for me. I have increased my understanding and appreciation of my anxious me. Of course, you can’t go through life thinking about every little thing like this. But being able to do it some of the time has helped me a lot.

    So now I need to get back to work, while my anxious-me is screaming on about my (again) sprained ankle – walking apparently is not something I can just do – and how that is ruining my life and is all my fault. Not very useful I think, so letting her go on for a bit and waving at her from a distance.

    I got introduced to voice dialogue through a really good Dutch book – I know my me’s – which is very clearly written and based on the original theory by Hal and Sidra Stone (which was in English).

    Hope this is of use to anyone :)
    Thanks again for the great post and lovely replies ^^

  67. Amy says:

    What if it’s not your anxiety? What if you are picking up the anxiety, worry, or stress of others? Multipotentialites are often energy magnets taking on the feelings and thoughts of others. We don’t even know we’re doing it. Having gone through this enough times I’ve come to realize what I’m feeling is not personal. I know that when these traumatic events occur part of my contribution is to stay grounded and transform the immense waves of fear that flow through the world. Perhaps next time you watch TV, hear something bad on the radio or another person, you might ask yourself, “Is this mine or someone else’s?” Take a breath and remember it’s not your feelings.

  68. Anu says:

    Dear Emilie,

    Have you tried God? I was facing serious depression and anxiety while at college. I started seeing a therapist and even got prescribed antidepressants and anxiety pills.

    Long story short, i started fellow shipping at a local church (because of my depression i didn’t want to be around people, so i stopped going) and moved to praise and worship songs on Youtube. I also started pouring over my bible. anxiety is extreme worrying which stems from fear of the unknown and 2 Timothy 1:7 New King James Version (NKJV) states “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” I hope you could add this scripture to your meditation and let me know how it goes.

    Hopefully this works for you as it did for me…

    Your fellow multipod. x

  69. Alegrdl says:

    Hi! I just saw your multipotentialite conference and although I have thought that its okey to be like this hearing say that its okey and that we have super powers has made my guilt go away a great deal, I feel guilty with my parents for switching careers in university 5 times, I started in entertainment business then design, then comunnications then biotechnology and finally architecture beacuse I always wanted to be passioned about what I do and when I lose my passion I tend to think that I was just wrong and should keep looking and it helps me calm down to know that Im not marrying architecture, I can be a singer if I want or a fitness blogger and its okey I just have to finish college first and I dont have to live every step if the way and seeing you talk about this, saying its not all of the bad things you listed but just different wiring is such a relief and well what I just started trying out with anxiety is this
    I read a quite that said Worrying is a misuse of imagination
    I read an article that said when you dont want to wake up your brain looks for excuses for you not to wake up saying Im sick, I barely slept, this class is not that important anyway, I can exercise tomorrow but you have to stop your mind ( because you are not your mind) and say Thanks mind but I know whats best for me and wake up, your mind is there to help you but it looks for your happiness and not your bellbeing and its a good thing if we learn to distinguish them apart
    So I realized my anxiety is not my enemy, its my friend, my excessivly worrying friend, it doesnt want me to mess up, it wants ti protect me and sometimes it helps but its so strong that it takes iver and Im overwhelmed so I say thanks for wanting to protect, I know that you dont want me to mess up but I know best and you have to trust me
    Instead of thinking that if I dont study fir this test Im gonna fail and terrible things will derive from that its way better to think if I study hard on this test Im gonna get a good grade and awesome things will come from it, run TOWARDS something good and not FROM something bad, stop feeling like you are running away from your problems or the possible consequences, its hell, use our imagination in a better way, imagine what good will come from a decision

  70. Sienna says:

    I’m so so glad this is being addressed–anxiety has reached epidemic levels among society as a whole, and I feel that multipotentialites are at an especial risk due to the fact that we feel most authentic living life outside an established norm. It will always be anxiety-inducing to some extent, working against the grain/going against the flow/being consciously unconventional. These tips are super practical and concrete–I’m definitely gonna check out the Headspace app in particular.

    I run a student blog at my university and I just finished up a 3-part miniseries on coping with panic attacks! If anyone’s interested, here’s Part 1: https://siennawgl.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/the-student-panic-attack-survival-guide-part-1-understanding-panic-attacks/

  71. Jane Ferguson says:

    I really like this post and all the helpful comments that people have left; some of which I am now going to put into practice to help with my own anxiety. My son, who is 9, taught me something really interesting the other the night that I find helps ‘in the moment’. Just smile — even if you don’t feel happy, the sheer act of putting a smile on your face tricks your brain into feeling happy as it cannot distinguish between a genuine smile in response to happy emotions, and a making yourself physically smile which then creates the same happy feelings. Try it: it works and can get you out of an anxiety spiral!!

  72. Dave says:

    Hi everyone,

    I rarely post on blogs, if ever, but this one hit home for me.

    I’d like to make two suggestions to everyone with anxiety symptoms that interfere with their life, or an inability to function due to excess worrying. The first is the work of Dr Claire Weekes. This unbelievable woman wrote about anxiety back in the 60’s, and gave radio talks and treated patients as a GP until the early 90’s. She was nominated for a Nobel Prize twice in her lifetime for her work with anxious folk! It laid the foundation for both CBT and ACT, but actually explains everything ten times more clearly, directly, and with more experience and passion than anyone since. In my opinion anyway. She explains how to recover, which to her means knowing how to let anxiety come and go as it does, without letting it rule your life. This reduces the intensity of symptoms over time. We do this by understanding what’s happening, accepting and learning how to ‘float’ through it all, redirecting your energy and thereby removing it’s fuel. Very similar to what Emilie wrote about in this post. But the way Dr Weekes speaks about it is so accurate and inspiring, because she actually suffered severe anxiety herself and recovered from it to live a full, rich life (with many careers). She also has audiobooks.

    As you can see, I couldn’t NOT pass on the info about this, because it helped me in my life so much. I hope it helps someone else out there!

    The second is professional help, find someone who clicks with you and understands anxiety and how to move you in a positive direction and honour your unique path. It took me several goes to find a good one, but it’s worth it. These days standard anxiety treatment is pretty good really, much better than 10 years ago.

    I know what it’s like, you’re all awesome. I hope someone benefits from this post, in some small way. Good luck!

    Cheers
    Dave

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