5 Steps to Stop Anxiety from Stopping You!

If you suffer from chronic anxiety or panic attacks you know that when anxiety gets going it rarely stops and you feel helpless to stop it. Anxiety and what is often called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a constant state of feeling on edge, hyper-vigilant or uneasy that is either more or less pronounced  at any given time.  The first thing to realize is that anxiety is an experience the body is having in response to a number of factors.  It's the first thing to realize because many people feel it is a problem of the mind and in my experience in working with anxiety, if the body becomes relaxed and at ease the mind will follow.  Anyone who experiences anxiety can begin to identify the sensations and discomforts in the body as the first signs of anxiety.  Any one of these five steps will help you introduce a different/countering state of being at times when your anxiety is noticeable and more importantly stopping you from doing something you want to do (meet with friends, make a presentation) or being a way you want to be (Loving, connected, spontaneous).

  1. Make crazy faces in the mirror  - Starting the day with a laugh at yourself will wake up the social engagement muscles of your face so you can perceive with greater ease and be seen more clearly.  Add funny sounds or gibberish to stimulate the throat, tongue, and voice.

  2. Splash cold water on your face before heading into a triggering environment. This might not be so easy if you are a woman with make-up on so maybe you can hold a cool towel or ice pack at the side of your neck. Again stimulating the part of the nervous system that will allow you to access safety in any triggering situation. Cooling for a short period will stimulate the blood to flow into the muscles of the face and wake-up the social engagement nervous system that helps us find safety in connection with others. 

  3. Whistling or Humming - To whistle or hum you have to control your out breath and use the muscles of your mouth and tongue (for whistling) or contracting your pharynx (humming) in a coordinated way. This also stimulates the social engagement system of the nervous system that helps your body feel safe.

  4.  Slow Deep Breaths; are a well documented and very effective technique to help you shift your state of mind and body.  If you can breathe slowly and deeply you consciously override the physiology of stress which is shallow short breaths.  You are consciously saying to your nervous system, I'm ok - I don't have to fight or flee anyone or anything.

  5. Grounding through the Feet: Standing. Bring all you weight to one foot notice the pressure. Breathe a couple of times. Then do the same to the other side. Then come back to center and notice if you are feeling more at ease in your body. Take a look around at your surroundings and determine that you are physically safe.  


What are some ways you stop anxiety from stopping you. 

Share them below


Crooked Carrots


The other day I was shopping at the Union Square farmer’s market and I fell in love with the carrots. They were a bright, almost transparent orange, and they came in a stunning variety of sizes and shapes. Some looked as if they had legs, and arms, and torsos! They all looked so different from one another, and their variety was humorous in an odd way, like little orange people tossed about.

I picked up one that had two distinct legs, held together by a healthy trunk, and another that was fat and round. “ Who knows?”, I thought, “maybe these funny carrots will each benefit the area of my body that it resembles—legs, torso, belly.”
As I was walking down 2nd Avenue back home, I kept thinking about that haphazard pile of carrots. Then I thought about the generic rows of carrots at the supermarket, all the same shape and size, laid out carefully, and lifelessly. I realized that it wasn’t just the carrots. All the vegetables at the supermarket looked the same,manicured mounds of generic-looking apples and oranges, carefully crafted tufts of broccoli.

And then I realized that the entire supermarket experience thrives on this kind of reliable, bland sameness. What subtle messages we get from the culture at large--even from the supermarket! That somehow life is easier, more democratic, and more desirable, if all our choices are homogenized. All carrots look the same so why take take the time to look , touch, consider, or even smell them. Just pick up a pre-packaged bag and away you go.

I have often felt the pressure to conform, to look a certain way, eat a certain way, be a certain way. Anything so that I wouldn’t stand out. But there was so much joy in looking at these craggy, organic carrots. Maybe there is some joy, I thought, in being what I am organically; crooked or straight, fat or thin, ambitious or lazy.  As a licensed massage therapist and polarity therapy practitioner for almost 10 years, I’ve seen over 1000 human bodies. I have seen an immense diversity of size, shape, age, and color. I feel great joy in discovering what has made  each  body take  it’s particular shape, size, and form. And my heart breaks when I hear a client trying to put their body into a prescribed “ideal” box, and being angry and frustrated that ‘my body won’t do what I want it to, won’t look the way I want it to.’

If we truly want to find wellness, maybe we should follow the lead of those carrots. We are who we are because of where we grew, and where we continue to grow . Like the carrots we have found our space in this world; we have pushed through life’s resistance, and that process has given us our shape and substance. The carrots were not comparing themselves to each other, and thankfully neither did the farmer.  

Rejoice in your uniqueness. Rejoice in where you came from how you grew. Rejoice in the ways, every day, that you continue to grow through the challenges that shape you inside and out. Stop and take a moment and rejoice in how amazing it is that you are right here, right now, reading this. And then know that you are already very well.


She held me in her hands
like a smooth stone

 I felt myself filled, though
my body's container was gone

like the Chumash Indians -- almost extinct,
their spirits visit us in dreamtime
through stones
          Aiyana Stern

I met Aiyana at the Yoga Journal Conference here in NYC in May.  I was giving introductory Polarity sessions, using a folding lounge chair, each lasting about 20 minutes.  I was honored that she felt inspired by her experience to write so eloquently about something so intangible, the experience of one’s self reflected, held by another.  For me I feel this is what healing is about.  To feel your self held in the gaze of life.   Who or what holds that gaze doesn’t really matter, it is the quality of presence that completes the circuit, allowing for the return of self, back home.  

The experiences that have been most healing for me have been the ones where I came to realizations in my own time,  taking responsibility for my own experience of myself and feeling held and accepted no matter where or how far I went.  When it’s happening it feels like all the tension that has me wound up, tension related to pressuring myself to be ‘perfect’, begins to release it grip.  The tape recorder in my mind slows down and allows for my inner voice to come through, the part of me that doesn’t listen to the tape, the part of me that knows I am whole, well and already prefect.

What are some of your experiences with healing?