Archive for anxiety

How Self-Help Boosts The Health Of Your Mind, Body, And Spirit

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Do you remember Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live? He was a character that took the idea of self-help and made fun of it. Stuart would look in the mirror and tell himself he was special and smart and do other daily affirmations. A famous quote that he said is, “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!”

The most interesting thing about this skit is that even though they sought to make fun of the entire self-help movement, there was truth in what they did. The more you talk to yourself in a positive way, the more positive your life will become and the more successful you will become. It’s just a fact that positive people are often more successful than negative people. The reason is that positive people believe they deserve to be successful. Plus they combined it with Mirror Work, made famous (to me, at least) by Louise Hay in You Can Heal Your Life.

* No One Knows You Better Than Yourself – Also, no one is more judgmental to you than yourself. It’s sad that the one person you can truly count on, turns on you and treats you worse than you would allow any other individual to treat you, isn’t it? But you can turn this around by taking hold of the idea of self-help and realizing that it’s not just a comedy skit. It’s real, and it can affect your entire being: mind, body, and spirit.

* Believe in Self-Help – People who are interested in self-help are generally open-minded people who believe that they have some measure of control over what happens to them. That means that people who get help from self-help already believe that it is possible. They are willing to give the suggestions they learn a try, and due to that fact alone usually see success in their efforts.

* Self-Help Can Build Self-Confidence – When you feel confident in yourself, positive things begin to happen to your mind. If you previously thought you could not do something and due to reading a self-help book you went outside of your comfort zone and experienced success, it is likely that the self-confidence you developed will wash over into trying more new things. It can be like a snowball effect that more confidence builds more confidence. This is essentially raising your energy vibration. I’ll write more about energy vibrations and raising them in the future. You can learn more about energy as vibration from a lot of places. I would suggest starting with the movies The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know.

* Self-Help Can Reduce Anxiety – When you realize that you’re not helpless against your emotions and feelings, you will start to notice a big change. When you manage to overcome some of your social anxiety due to taking some of the actions you’ve read about in self-help books, then each step you take out of anxiety will get easier. This isn’t to say that you will never need medication for anxiety, but you might realize from self-help that it’s okay to take medication if you need it.

* Self-Help Can Be the Catalyst for Getting Healthy – Very few people are able to change their body through diet and exercise, because they don’t think that they can or they haven’t figured out a plan of action to do it. By reading self-help books and finding stories of others who have accomplished it, you start to realize it is possible and that you can do it too. Even if you only reach half your goal, you will still end up healthier than before self-help. And, yes, I would include tracking your diet in apps/websites like cronometer.com and fitday.com to be included in self-help. You’re helping yourself! 😉

* Self-Help Makes It Normal to Be Spiritual – Today it can be hard to be spiritual due to how busy everyone is and how it feels like a dog-eat-dog world that is full of anything but love. But when you read self-help books and try to practice self-love and acceptance, you start realizing how much you need the spiritual food that love gives you. When you make it a priority, your life will become better.

While many people treat self-help like a joke, it is actually very effective in helping a lot of people make their lives better. People do not come away from a study of self-help in any area of life unchanged. Taking the time to learn is always going to be a good thing.

What methods of self-help have you used? Let me know in the comments!

Trauma And My Hysterosalpingogram Test (HSG)

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Photo credit: http://www.advancedfertility.com/hsg.htm

I have mentioned in previous posts that I was using hypnosis and subliminal message tracks to help deal with anxiety around some medical procedures. Well, the one I’ve had done recently that was pretty rough for me was a hysterosalpingogram, commonly just called HSG. I had this test done because my daughter and I have decided that we’d like to try to add a sibling to our family.

I have a history of trauma so getting any kind of procedure involving a speculum, such as a pap smear, is anxiety-producing for me. I seek out female gynecologists, have to go slow through pap smears, and sometimes have had to request a smaller speculum due to extreme muscle tension.

The HSG is a special real-time x-ray that is done at a radiology office to test whether a woman’s fallopian tubes are open. It starts off with an x-ray of the pelvic region. The radiologist then places a speculum. A catheter is then inserted through the cervix and a special dye is injected into the uterus. The radiologist and patient can then watch on a screen visible to both for the dye to flow out through the fallopian tubes. No dye spilling out of the fallopian tubes indicates that the tubes are blocked. In the event of blocked tubes, the doctor said that the only remedy is surgery to unblock the tubes or to use IVF for pregnancy.

I attempted the test…

Unfortunately, for this test there is only one size speculum available because it comes in a kit. The thing almost looked big enough for some livestock, definitely larger than most that I had seen at an OB/GYN! Strike one for me. Secondly, there are only male doctors at the hospital radiology unit that does this procedure. Strike two for me. Third, the radiologist acted like I knew what was going on and maybe like I was livestock; he didn’t warn me about what was going to happen or talk much. Strike three for me; I’m out! And that was with me having taken 800 mg ibuprofen and 2.5 mg Valium (a pretty small dose) 1 hour before the appointment.

When the nurse tells you that they’ll use a “brown soap” (Betadine, basically), and then the radiologist comes in and just basically stabs at your most sensitive area with what amounts to a long Q-tip without even a “by your leave,” you know it’s not going to be pretty. Um, not happening. Seeing how close I was to totally freaking out, the radiologist valiantly decided to do no more harm and stopped the procedure. Unfortunately, that meant another month on birth control pills (to keep the uterine lining thin for the pretty picture), and another month added to the whole process of getting to IUI.

Testing, testing…

So I ordered three recordings of a custom subliminal message track (musical selections: Dream, Waves, Silent) and a custom medical hypnosis CD. The doctor also prescribed some medicine for me–Percocet and Ativan. The reproductive endocrinologist’s (RE) office also managed to schedule me with a semi-retired radiologist who apparently managed to do the procedure for all the patients who couldn’t tolerate the other radiologists.

So prescription in-hand, I set about the task of both psyching myself up and calming myself down. I took the day off work, got my dad and his wife to drive us, and took the Percocet and first Ativan about 1 hour and 10 minutes before my scheduled appointment time. I took the second Ativan about .5 hours later because I didn’t feel anything. Luckily, my appointment started a little late because I didn’t even start to feel the affects of the medications until almost 1.5 hours after taking the first dose! Adrenaline is a powerful thing (yes, I’ve also had dentist appointments where I could not get numb partly because of adrenaline)!

Success!

This radiologist had decades of experience and talked his way through the entire procedure. He told me exactly what he was about to do just before he did it so I didn’t have any surprises, he started over again when I asked him to, and he let me breathe when I needed it. Dye spilled out of the right fallopian tube beautifully, followed by a slightly slower spill from the left one, as well as showing that I had no polyps or anything that might interfere with implantation. Huzzah!

The next step in my baby-making saga will be a water ultrasound next week. It was described to me by the reproductive endocrinologist as “similar to the HSG, but not as uncomfortable.” Great. :-/

7 Tips For Facing Your Social Fears

image501Did you know that most people on Earth say that they have social anxieties? It’s right up there with public speaking as one of the biggest fears. Social fears are one of the most common issues that a lot of people face or claim to face. It may be worse for some than for others, but social fear is a pretty universal issue. For most of us it started in our tween or teenage years. We either learned to cope with it, or it manifested into something worse.

There are some ways in which you can learn to face social fears without having to drop out of society. Most of these tips are easy to accomplish. If you have issues that exceed these tips, consider getting some professional help. You may have social anxiety and need stronger help to get yourself on the right path.

1. Start Small – If you are ready to make a huge change in your life and face your social fears, don’t choose to start with speaking in front of 1500 people. Instead, start small with a small group like a “meet-up” group, a reading group, or join a local Toastmasters group. Get a little bit out of your comfort zone, and then build up to more.

2. Plan Ahead – Most people are nervous in social situations but if you plan ahead, you’ll be more relaxed. Practice introducing yourself, and maybe ask a friend or family member to help you practice your handshake too. Bimage589eing more comfortable around people starts one step at a time, and practice will help it feel more familiar. Personally, I have issues in crowds so I may look over a map of the venue for something such as a fair or conference ahead of time so I’m more familiar with the surroundings before I arrive.

3. Love Yourself — This is a problem for a lot of people! Many social fears come from wrong-headed beliefs that something is wrong with you. You don’t think enough of yourself, and you think you’re weird or somehow “wrong.” But, nothing could be further from the truth. Most of us have something different about us; if we were all the same it would be quite boring. Embrace your differences and accept yourself for who you are. Some of the meditations I’m going to post in the upcoming Meditation Challenge will be related to this topic. Sign up for my emails to be notified when we’re about to start!

4. Avoid Judgment – Some measure of social fears come from our own poor judgments of not just ourselves but others. We think that if we are so judgmental then other people are too. So, to avoid that judgment we just avoid the situation entirely. If you learn to stop being so judgmental you’ll be able to be less afraid. I’ve been guilty of this. It’s so easy to turn out attention to seeing what’s wrong in others instead of learning to be at ease with our own shortcomings. Learning to accept other people’s differences and personalities as just being human is part of learning to accept yourself. Being human is perfectly acceptable.

5. Your Fears Aren’t Reality – Just because you’re afraid of something doesn’t mean it’s real. You may have all sorts of ideas in your head about how your voice sounds, how you look, and your perceived awkwardness. (This is so me about my hair after it started thinning after Kaida was born.) But, the truth is, most people are so tied up in their own fears that they don’t even notice that you’re nervous. Fearing something doesn’t mean it will actually happen.

6. Take a Deep Breath – When you feel the anxiety coming on, stop, and take a deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose, filling up your lungs completely, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. One or two slow breaths can help you overcome your initial fears fast. I sometimes get PVCs when I’m anxious or stressed and recently found this great meditation for cardiac arrhythmias on YouTube. I’ll be posting more meditations for anxiety during my upcoming Meditation Challenge. Sign up for my emails to be notified when we’re about to start!

7. Take the Leap Anyway – Most of the time, fear is worse than the actual situation. Even if you’re doing something scary like getting a shot, or an operation, or bungee jumping – the worry leading up to the event is usually much worse than the actuality of what you are doing. If you take the leap and jump in with both feet, you’ll find that your fear level drops substantially.

Most social fear is a normal reaction that people have. You’re not abnormal to have social fears. This is especially true if you’re unwilling to allow your fears to block you from having a happy and productive life.

Let me know in the comments of any other tips you’ve found useful!

How Negative Thoughts Fuel Social Anxiety

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Many people suffer from something called social anxiety. This is the feeling of being out of control and nervous and even afraid of being in social situations. People with social anxiety disorder feel anxiety in situations where scrutiny by others may occur.

There are different levels of anxiety. Some people are so anxious that they cannot force themselves to get into a social situation in public without being medicated, and even then, they find it awkward and difficult. Some people even have panic attacks.

Several social situations can trigger negative thoughts that can swirl around and around your head, making you more and more anxious about the social situation that may be coming up. You might even completely talk yourself out of attending, which can then lead to worse problems and even eventually lead to becoming housebound.

Negative Thought Triggers

Situations that can trigger negative thoughts include:

* Meeting new people
* Potential criticism
* Being the center of attention
* Other people observing you
* Speaking in public
* Group interactions
* Meeting authority figures
* Not knowing what to say
* Feeling unsure about what to wear
* Looking into other people’s eyes
* Yawning
* Talking
* Walking
* Talking on the phone
* Any situation where you think people might judge you (yeah, it’s a long list)

The above might seem over the top if you do not suffer from social anxiety yourself, but the list can go on and on if you do. People with social anxiety start going over potential scenarios in their head the moment they realize they are going to have a social situation. They start turning each situation into a negative event.

How Thoughts turn into Social Anxiety

When they meet a new person they imagine messing up the person’s name, forgetting their own name, or having bad breath. They imagine saying something “wrong” and being the butt of a joke or subject to criticism due to being “wrong.” They feel nervous even getting an award because people are looking at them and making them the center of attention. They start thinking that they did not deserve the award, that they are a fraud, and shouldn’t go collect or accept the award after all.

Then it just goes downhill from there. They can’t stop spinning every possible scenario into a bad thing until their heart is beating out of their chest, they can’t breathe right, and finally they have a full-fledged panic attack. Due to this, they end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, becoming the center of attention due to the panic attack, and then being judged as weird or a drama queen.

As you can see, thoughts have a lot of power even though they’re just thoughts and not even reality. When you start to realize how pervasive negative thoughts can cause social anxiety and make it worse, then you can also realize how turning your thoughts around to positive thoughts can make your social anxiety less.

Turning the Negatives into Positives

The minute you notice you are obsessing about any future event it’s time to get out of your own head and do something different. Practice deep breathing, and read some positive quotes. If your stress is because you’re not sure what to wear, find a good friend to help you pick something out. If you’re worried about bad breath, take some mints with you. If you are scared you will say someone’s name wrong, practice the names if you know who will be going.

There are always ways in which you can turn all negatives into positives but the most important thing is to realize that no one is perfect and therefore no one expects you to be perfect. Most people have some of the same worries that you do, they just don’t take it to the higher level.

We’re going to be discussing changing negative thoughts to positive ones A LOT.

Probably everyone has times where they’re stuck in negative thinking. How have you managed to turn that around?