The truth about anxiety

In this podcast (episode #536) and blog, I talk about what we have gotten wrong about anxiety.

It is entirely normal to experience feelings of anxiety without having a mental illness. These kinds of emotions are part of the human experience, and can be triggered by a wide range of life events and circumstances: 

  1. Stressful life events, such as the loss of a loved one, a breakup, financial difficulties, or work-related stress, can lead to feelings of sadness and anxiety. These emotions are often considered normal reactions to challenging situations.
  2. Major life transitions, like starting a new job, moving to a new city, or adjusting to a significant change in circumstances, can cause temporary feelings of anxiety as individuals adapt to the new situation.
  3. Some people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in seasons, typically occurring in the fall and winter. This can lead to feelings of sadness and anxiety during certain times of the year.
  4. Physical health problems, such as chronic illness or chronic pain, can lead to emotional distress, including anxiety and sadness. These emotional responses are often a natural reaction to dealing with health challenges.
  5. Environmental factors, like exposure to excessive noise, pollution, or a lack of access to natural settings, can contribute to stress, which may manifest as anxiety and sadness.
  6. Conflicts, misunderstandings, or difficulties in personal relationships can lead to emotional distress, including anxiety and sadness.
  7. Sometimes, feelings of anxiety and sadness can result from personal growth and transformation. For example, individuals may feel anxious when stepping out of their comfort zone or sad when reflecting on past experiences and changes in life goals. 

It's important to recognize that experiencing occasional anxiety or sadness does not necessarily indicate a mental illness. The way we see something affects how it impacts our health, mentally and physically, so it is important that we take the time to think about how we think about feelings like anxiety or sadness. 

If you are feeling anxious, take a few moments to stop and think about how you feel and why. What is your anxiety telling you? To do this, I recommend using the Neurocycle mind management method I have developed and studied over the past three decades, which I discuss in detail in my book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle.  

The Neurocycle is a way to harness your thinking power that I have developed and researched over the past three decades. It has 5 steps. The first step is to 1. gather awareness of how you feel mentally and physically and your perspective. The second step is to 2. reflect on how you feel. Why do you think you feel this way?  Then you 3. write down your reflections to help organize your thinking. The fourth step is to 4. recheck: think about what your thoughts and feelings are trying to tell you. What does it say about how you view the situation? What is your “antidote”— how will you work through what is affecting you? Look for clues in your writing, then start to reframe/reconceptualize the way you are thinking about what happened and how you can improve the situation. Lastly, you do your 5. active reach. This is a thought or action you need to practice daily to help you reconceptualize what you thought about in the previous step - that is, what you are going to do each day to give yourself the time and mental space needed to deal with what is bothering you. 

We need to remember that mental health is a spectrum, and these emotions are part of the range of normal human emotions. However, if these feelings persist, become overwhelming, or significantly interfere with daily functioning and well-being, it may be a sign of a mental health concern that should be addressed with the help of a mental health professional. 

For more tips on managing anxiety, listen to my podcast (episode #536). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).        

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Podcast Highlights

0:11 Anxiety doesn’t mean you have a mental illness

0:40, 3:20 What your anxiety can tell you about yourself

4:00 The way you think about something impacts how it affects you

6:13, 8:40 How to manage feelings of anxiety in the moment 

14:45 It is normal to feel anxious!

17:20, 21:05 Statements to help you when you feel anxious 

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.

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