EP69 How To Get Relief From Your Anxiety TODAY

Living With Your Child's Addiction Podcast
Living With Your Child's Addiction Podcast
EP69 How To Get Relief From Your Anxiety TODAY
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Every parent experiences anxiety worrying about their kids, but parents who are watching a child struggle with substance use experience even more intense levels of anxiety and more instances of it. 

It doesn’t have to be that way though.  You can start changing your anxiety experience today. All you have to do is take the time to bring yourself into the present moment so you can define the emotion under the anxiety, listen to what that emotion is telling you,  process it, and reframe your thoughts about it. 

In this episode you will learn:

  • What anxiety is and why it’s important
  • The four ways we react to anxiety
  • The source of anxiety
  • The steps you can take to manage it TODAY

This episode was previously published 1/21/21

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Transcript

This transcript has not been formatted or edited.

0:01

I’m Heather after many wasted years, trying outdated, approaches to my daughter’s addiction, that felt wrong to me harmed.

Our relationship and didn’t help my daughter.

I finally found an effective evidence-based approach.

0:16

That repair my relationship with her helped me.

Create my own peace of mind and made me an ally in my daughter’s recovery.

I teach you a loving and compassionate approach to help you encourage change.

And create connection addiction impacts the entire family system.

0:35

Family recovery is the answer.

Hey, before you listen to today’s episode I wanted to let you know that I am doing free calls.

It’s the first time I’ve ever done free sample coaching calls.

0:52

They’re normally $17 and I am doing them through Friday December.

Yes.

So there is a link in the show notes for you to sign up for a free sample, coaching call and find out what it is like to work with me.

1:13

So I hope you enjoy today’s episode about anxiety.

Hello today, I’m going to talk about anxiety because every parent experiences anxiety worrying about their kids.

1:29

But pain, Parents who are watching a child go through addiction experience, even more intense levels of anxiety and more instances of it.

So I think that it’s a really important topic and taking the time to understand it learn how to process it and reframe your thoughts about it is an important skill to have and that’s what this podcast is all about.

2:00

I want you to walk away from each episode with either education.

Some mindset changes that serve you and changing your experience of your child’s addiction or actions that you can Implement right away and learning about anxiety, definitely fits in there.

2:21

The constant intrusive thoughts of all the things that are going to go wrong and all all of the things that could go wrong.

Ignites a lot of anxiety especially if you feel at the mercy of not only your child’s addiction, but the crippling anxiety that you’re feeling because of it.

2:48

So, it’s important to see that if you aren’t being chased by a tiger or some other immediate in the moment danger.

That Xiety is always about the past or the future, but not the present moment.

3:07

The biggest problem with anxiety is it feels so dangerous, especially if you’re having a panic attack.

So let’s start with what anxiety is and its purpose.

Anxiety is a normal part of the human experience.

3:25

We are meant to feel both positive and negative emotions and I I talked about that in episode 8.

Anxiety is a feeling you experience is a vibration in your body and I don’t mean a literal vibration, but figuratively, like butterflies in your stomach.

3:46

And for me, most of the time anxiety starts with my heart rate, increasing a knot in my stomach or a tightness in my chest and I have faster more shallow breathing than normal.

And is all get into later.

4:03

It’s good to know what anxiety feels like for you.

Is a part of the process of working through it.

And in general anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease typically about an imminent danger or something, with an uncertain outcome.

4:23

And there’s a lot of uncertainty and life.

Anyway, whenever we think we know that what the outcome of something is going.

To be, we really don’t.

But the uncertainty of our child’s addiction, gets a lot of our attention.

In the more attention, it gets the more we think about it and it just becomes a vicious cycle.

4:44

Sometimes anxiety, shows up and we don’t know why.

So we frantically go through all the possible reasons in our minds looking for answers.

Since our kids addiction is an easy go to, we often go there first.

The anxiety starts out vague and that’s part of the problem.

5:04

There’s anxiety about not knowing what the anxiety is about, and that’s how it starts taking you over.

You frantically start looking for something is wrong, in the present moment, when most likely you had some subconscious thoughts running in the background, the other day, I was sitting at my desk and I was just looking through.

5:29

This folder of papers that I need to file.

Next thing I knew I went from feeling pretty content to anxious, I noticed it rising up in my chest and my heart rate went up and I was breathing faster and it was this quick switch of emotion, so it caught me off guard.

5:49

But my next step was really important.

I stopped and I questioned it.

I didn’t Panic like I have in the past and I didn’t believe Leave it.

So my first question was, where did this come from?

And I started thinking about what I was doing and I realized that one of the papers I had passed as I was going through this folder.

6:13

Had a somewhat traumatic event associated with it and I had started thinking about that event subconsciously even though I was still looking through this folder for a specific piece of paper.

So Knowing that I was able to talk myself through it and easily come back into the present moment.

6:36

And remember I said that anxiety is generally about the past or the future that event was in the past it’s over and I was easily able to calm myself.

So that’s what anxiety is at the most basic level.

6:53

It’s just a feeling and I know you already know that logically but it’s important.

Oughtn’t to go back to that when it sneaks up on you and it feels like you’re in danger and that danger feels real.

So, go straight to thinking, this is just a feeling and that helps you remove that emotional charge that comes with the anxiety and its purpose is to protect us.

7:18

It’s preparing us for fight flight or freeze.

So think of feeling anxiety as an internal alarm system.

It’s meant to keep humans alive and it’s worked like it’s kept the human race going.

7:35

It’s highly developed and it works really fast with little effort.

We don’t even have to think about it and your internal alarm system might be on overdrive because of your child’s addiction, but your survival response is working.

7:51

As its supposed to it just needs some tweaks so that you can get it back to a manageable place.

So now that we’ve covered the basics about what anxiety is and its purpose.

Let’s talk about how you manage it.

And when I say manage, I don’t want you to expect it to go away permanently and never come back.

8:12

We don’t want it to go away permanently because as we said earlier, it’s useful when we need it and for me, my anxiety is very situational.

Luckily I don’t wake up feeling anxious every day like some people do.

Most of the time I can manage my anxiety pretty well.

8:33

But last year, I had a few months of it that gave me a new understanding of what people who have constant anxiety, go through.

It also helped me realize that I’ve had some panic attacks in the past.

I just never realized what they were.

8:50

Since I preferred numbness in the past, I kind of rejected the idea of anxiety and tried to to explain the panic attack away.

I wouldn’t allow myself to identify with something like panic attacks because I only perceive myself as calm.

9:07

And since I had no tools for dealing with the intense emotions, I was experiencing.

I just avoided them and I just listening to myself, describe that and remembering how I was, and what I was going through in my life at that time.

9:24

It’s so obvious to me now that it was panic attack.

But that just shows you how strong the power of denial is.

But the good part about the anxiety that I experienced last year.

Like everything else I’ve experienced.

9:40

It helped me understand what others go through and figure out how to work through it on my own and then that makes me so much better at explaining it in a way that can really help people and I couldn’t help people with anxiety.

9:57

See before because I just didn’t understand it.

There’s four ways that you can react to anxiety but only one of them helps you resolve it.

And once you recognize that you’re feeling anxiety, you’re going to choose one of those four options.

10:14

Now, three of those options aren’t helpful but we need to talk about them so you can identify if that’s how you’re reacting.

Identifying it and understanding it is an important part of changing it.

So the Option is to resist it or fight it in.

10:31

This is what I would say.

Most people do.

That’s what I did over the last year when I was experiencing it.

Not only did I resist it but I judged it and panicked about it.

So I feel the anxiety, come on and then I would feel powerless and stuck with it.

10:51

Then I would tighten up to resist it and feel more panicked about it.

All that did was make my Xiety worse.

It was just fuel on the Fire.

The second choice you have is to react to it and think about somebody, you know, who’s just always moving, they’re rushing around.

11:13

Always busy talking fast.

Can’t sit still.

You know that person, you could just anxious just being around them.

They’re acting out their anxiety and reacting to it all the time.

The third option is avoiding it in.

11:29

This was my Ford method in the past was to go numb in a void it and you know how your dog won’t look at you when he knows he did something wrong and he’s like if I don’t look at you then what I did wrong is just going to disappear and that’s what I did.

11:48

Like I would just get lost in my work and try to ignore and avoid it.

And I had the perfect job for it.

I could just get lost in my work and some people drink alcohol.

To avoid it.

Other people eat, they scroll social media for hours or watch endless hours of Netflix.

12:07

It looks avoiding, it looks different for different people and all of those things that I mentioned can be done without trying to avoid something.

But if you’re aware, you know, the difference between just regular enjoyment of something.

12:24

And when you’re trying to avoid feeling something, Now, the fourth option in this is the best option.

Is, you can actively accept the anxiety.

I use the word actively because it’s really important that you don’t see acceptance is giving up and you know that you have to work at it when you accept something and you own it, that’s when you have the power to change it.

12:54

It’s just like accepting your child’s addiction rather than Sting it.

Acceptance doesn’t mean that you’ve given up in a are okay, with their addiction.

It means that you’ve reached a place of deciding to work with it instead of against it by using the word actively accepting, it’s something that requires you to go to work.

13:20

It’s not something that you can just do, passively it requires that you’re willing to quietly, witness it and observe it.

Be in the present moment with it.

If there’s no imminent, danger anxiety is about the past or future.

13:37

And when I accept my anxiety in, observe it, then I can gain authority over it again, just like dealing with a child’s addiction.

Once you accept it, then you’re no longer at the effect of, it’s not controlling you anymore, it’s not controlling your life anymore and that’s the same thing with anxiety.

13:58

As soon as I open up to it, instead of tightening up and constricting and resisting, then I can work through it.

And as I said earlier, when I judged it and panicked about it intensified my anxiety, I’m realizing this was the key to my acceptance.

14:21

I saw that I was making it worse because I was reacting to it.

And this was last year, I was sitting outside talking with my Emily.

It was a beautiful sunny day.

I just moved to Florida, but I had gone through a divorce and when I moved my daughter, had stayed in Oklahoma.

14:39

So, there were a lot of unknowns, my daughter was still in active addiction.

So, of course, she wouldn’t leave with me, and I hated being away from her.

It was a really hard decision to make, but I knew that moving to Florida was the best decision for Me and it was a part of my long-term plan, anyway.

15:02

So I was sitting there talking to everyone and my mind starts wandering, like I’m mentally left the conversation.

I was wondering about my future, my business, my daughter.

Next thing I know, I just feel that knot in my stomach and all the physical sensations of anxiety.

15:21

And then I panicked, like, I tightened up against, it was wondering if that I, the anxiety would ever stop by Judging it.

But then, what was different this time because this wasn’t the first time this had happened.

It was happening a lot.

After I moved here, was that this time, I had a Moment of clarity, I realized that I had added Panic to my anxiety and I never could see that before and just realizing and acknowledging that immediately brought down my anxiety, didn’t totally get rid of it.

15:56

But that was the first time I had Some sense of control over it and I was actively accepting it rather than resisting it.

Even though I wasn’t aware that.

That was what I was doing at the time and I also started practicing relaxing, my muscles instead of tightening up because that was another way I handled it.

16:17

I would just, like, tighten up my whole body and resistance of it.

You know, an anxiety comes with a lot of uncomfortable, Sensations, so, it’s really important to remember.

That it’s just discomfort but it’s not dangerous.

16:33

And when I had my first panic attack, 20 years ago that I didn’t realize was Panic until I experienced a lot of anxiety over the last year.

I thought I was having a heart attack and I was totally convinced I was going to die and as soon as I was convinced that I was going to die, it got so much worse.

16:52

Like I broke out in hives.

I was sweating, my chest was on fire, my heart was beating rapidly.

I got nauseous.

It was awful.

I went to the emergency room, but they said that I was fine, but I wasn’t having a heart attack and I wasn’t dying.

17:08

So the next time that it happened, I knew I wasn’t going to die and that alone made the second panic attack.

So much more bearable in my physical symptoms, weren’t nearly as bad.

17:24

And at that time, the only skill that I had, which was a pretty good one because it worked was breathing and that did the trick I would lay in a recliner and count my breaths to calm myself until It went away.

And I think I shared this in other episodes, but I would like, breathe into account of 5 and breathe out to a count of five and then, I would count up.

17:52

So, the next time I would inhale to a count of 6 and exhale to a count of 6 and the next time seven as far up as I could go.

And then I would work my way back down.

And that would always calm me down, which, by the way, I used to use that for migraines to and that would help.

18:10

Help with the pain.

So breathing is a really useful technique and I just think that that story is a great example, though, of how much fuel we can add to the fire, if we don’t accept it and when we do accept it and don’t add to it, then we gain some authority over it like those two experiences I just told you about were night and day.

18:38

Just because I didn’t add Panic to my anxiety.

So now that I have other tools besides breathing.

Let’s talk about what the source of anxiety is and how to work through it.

So, the first way is writing down.

18:56

Your thoughts are thoughts.

Create our feelings, that’s the source of our anxiety, our thoughts, we have a thought and that’s what releases the chemical we experience is a feeling in our body.

It doesn’t matter if we’re consciously aware of the thoughts or not.

19:12

They still create feelings.

So, you get the thoughts into your awareness, by writing them down.

It doesn’t matter.

Just Start writing.

It doesn’t even matter what you’re writing, just start the process and writing with a pen and paper is similar to meditating.

19:30

So just let go and write and see what comes out and be curious about it.

Don’t judge yourself, no matter how crazy the thoughts are.

And when you read, what you wrote, it’s going to be pretty obvious.

19:45

Why you’re anxious?

But just sit with it, you don’t have to immediately, try to change it.

You can just be aware, just open up to knowing your thoughts, are creating your anxiety, and that it’s not anything that’s happening.

20:03

In the current moment, just thought projections about the future or judgments and fears about the past.

So next describe the anxiety in detail.

Remember that if you’re in a hurry, To get out of anxiety is because you aren’t allowing it.

20:21

You’re afraid of feeling it, and that is resistance and not acceptance.

And the better you get at allowing it, and feeling it.

The easier it will be for you to move through it.

So describe all the facts about what you’re feeling with your anxiety and you can do this out loud to yourself or write it down.

20:42

I prefer writing and the more specific that you can describe it the better and that gets you out of experiencing it and into observing it.

So you can ask yourself questions.

20:59

Like where is it in your body?

What does it feel like really Get into describing, it doesn’t have a color.

Is your heart beating fast?

Are you breathing faster or more shallow?

Get into all the details.

21:16

This really helps.

You remove the vagueness of it and as I said earlier, part of the problem with anxiety is that we don’t take the time to understand it and so we feel powerless over it but sitting with it and describing it makes it very clear and easy for you to recognize.

21:34

Eyes in the future.

Like the story I told where I recognized that I was having anxiety and was only able to work through it.

I mean, that process I described was like a minute or two and I didn’t have to sit with it for very long because I immediately was able to tell myself that nothing was happening.

21:56

And I was able to clearly understand that it was just thoughts.

I was having that I wasn’t even aware of So being able to recognize it is really important.

You can also name it something else and I really like this, my mentor really struggles with daily anxiety and she calls it her heavy purse because just the word anxiety, might I add Panic to it, especially if you’ve been dealing with it for a long time and at the effect of it for a long time.

22:29

So if you don’t carry a person, call it a backpack.

Whatever works for you.

The point is it’s another tool for reframing it and giving yourself some authority over it a heavy purse or backpack is an inconvenience but it’s not going to kill you.

22:48

So another way to think about it and again, don’t forget about breathing, I shared my breathing technique with you earlier and it’s so helpful because it gets you out of that fight flight or freeze response and brings you into the present moment.

23:04

And notice that I said, present moment over and over because it’s so important.

We have to live in the present moment when you’re going through your child’s addiction, which is the most challenging thing, you’re probably ever going to face.

23:22

It’s so easy to start living in your thoughts.

Just replaying all the traumatic events that have happened in speculating about future traumas and the antidote to that is the present moment and focusing on what’s going on around you.

23:38

All right.

So that was a lot of information.

I just want to do a quick recap at the most basic level anxiety is just a feeling and it can’t kill you.

It has a A purpose.

And that purpose is to protect you.

23:56

There are four ways to respond to anxiety.

And only one of them works.

The three that don’t work.

Are resisting reacting and avoiding the one that does work is accepting it some tools for working through.

24:12

It are all the things that bring you into the present moment intentional deep breathing, Writing out all your thoughts, describing the anxiety and detail, and renaming it.

24:29

So you can reframe it.

So, that’s my recap.

I hope you have a great weekend and I’ll talk to you next week.

Thank you for listening to this episode.

If you want to learn more about my work, go to Heather.

24:44

Ross coaching.com if you want to help other parents who are struggling with a child’s addiction, you can do it two different ways.

First, you can share the podcast with them directly or you can share it on your social media second.

You can leave a review, talk to you next week.