Monday, March 31, 2014
Channeling Fear and Coping With Anxiety
My TEDx Talk at Yale this past Saturday was about "Life Revision." Its full title was "There Is No Final Draft: Keep Revising Your Life To Create Your Reality." I had a tremendous time at the TEDx conference and feel such love for my alma mater! (The speeches were taped by a professional cameraman, so videos of every speech will be posted to the TEDx site soon) (I'll be sure to let you know when that is.)
During my talk I mentioned to the audience members that they could personally get in touch if they were experiencing fear or anxiety and that I would share resources I've found helpful when coping with my own anxiety (which has included panic attacks and light-headedness, on and off for about three years now).
For ease of communication, I thought I'd keep an evolving list of resources on this blog so I can share them with all of you. This list isn't exhaustive; it's just a collection of books, sites, and techniques I've found helpful in coping with my own bouts of anxiety -- particularly surrounding "life revision."
Do you have any resources or techniques you've found helpful? Please share in the comment section below.
TECHNIQUES TO RELIEVE ANXIETY
EFT Tapping - This is a branch of self-administered acupressure technique that combines "Eastern" and "Western" approaches to dealing with anxiety. I mentioned it previous in a blog post and am a HUGE proponent of the practice. I've used EFT consistently and still use EFT in my life (all self-administered, for free) and have found it to be incredibly effective in de-stressing my system and calming my body's previous ingrained panic responses.
I highly recommend you check it out -- even if it sounds New Age and whack. To start, all you need to do is read this book by Nick Ortner (I'll list it again in the books section below). He also has a great website to check out, which explains EFT tapping and can get you started. Take a leap of faith! You won't regret it.
Meditation - I used to hate the very idea of meditation because, to be honest, it freaked me out. I hated sitting with my own thoughts, for fear that my mind would go crazy or that I would have a panic attack.
To start off small, I enrolled in Deepak Chopra and Oprah's free 21-day meditation challenge. They have ongoing programs (all free) and what they'll do is send you a meditation audio file each day, right to your inbox, and you can practice in a structured, safe way. There's a community aspect, too, with forums and comment sections where people can share their experiences, which for me was very enriching and made me feel not so alone or afraid. You can check out the latest offerings from The Chopra Center here. Leave a comment below if you enroll, and perhaps we can do it together!
Another place for good free guided meditation is a website called the Fragrant Heart.
Yoga - Yoga just straight-up makes me feel better. I love DoYogaWithMe.com which offers TONS of free yoga classes that you can do right in your living room.
Singing - Singing for stress relief has been huge for me. The act of singing a song and minding your breathing is very meditative in and of itself. It's actually impossible for your body to be anxious and breathing calmly at the same time, so the act of singing with controlled breath can instantly calm you and help you work through a bought of anxiety. I'm exploring this concept more formally and hope to report back in the future on more specific ways to use singing to help you with your fear and anxiety. Stay tuned...
Improv - Enrolling in an improv class helped me deal with anxiety and created a safe environment where I could be free to say YES to any impulse and channel some of my energy into a freeing form of performance. This might be a bit out-there for you, but I would highly recommend you explore improv classes -- even if you're not an actor or performer.
BOOKS I TURNED TO WHEN I FELT LOST
Below is a smattering of book titles all over the map. My favorite books on fear and the groundlessness of life have been authored by a Buddhist nun named Pema Chodron. She is wise and rather earth-shattering in her philosophies. Also included below is a book on EFT tapping, which I described above, alongside some other titles on spirituality and energy which may seem way out there for some people. I found them personally helpful, and hope you'll consider giving them a shot, too!
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Classics) - Pema Chodron
The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Shambhala Classics) - Pema Chodron
The Pocket Pema Chodron (Shambhala Pocket Classics) - Pema Chodron
The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living - Nick Ortner
E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality - Pam Grout
I hope these resources can prove helpful. I will keep adding to the list as I uncover or recall new stuff. Remember, if you're feeling stressed, anxious, or afraid, you are SO not alone.