Anger or anxiety disables our thinking brain. We need to re-calibrate what we are thinking in order to reclaim our emotional balance. That being said, when someone is putting pressure on us or elevating our blood pressure, stepping back and approaching things differently can help improve the outcome.
Think of something that is keeping you up at night and the main person responsible for this level of frustration. I'm not talking about a government official or someone we cannot influence, but rather someone with whom we have a relationship. An employee, a colleague, a boss, a relative; you know the drill.
Next, look at the situation which is causing you grief and do these steps:
#1 Take stock
On a scale of one to 10, figure out how committed you are to fixing this and taking action. So a rating of one is "I would be happy if I never had to deal with this person again" and 10 is "I truly value this relationship and want to solve this problem." If the consequences of leaving this person is motivating us to stay, we still need to figure out our commitment level. The higher the number, the higher the commitment.
If the commitment number you end up with is under seven, then you need to ask yourself, on a scale of one to 10, how committed are you to stay in this relationship. We are either more committed to fixing the problem or we are more committed to disengaging. Now be honest with yourself!
It is important to make sure your true commitment level is high enough. Otherwise all your decisions will be laced with resentment or a desire to "show them" and your actions will poison the well. If you cannot authentically adopt a conciliatory stance it may be a more mature to plan an exit strategy than to make a halfhearted effort to fix this.
Once you've decided you do want to stay in this situation, its time to:
#2 Flip it on its head
This is where you take stock of the other person's perceptions and needs in this situation. You should be able to reflect back to them that you truly see and recognize how they are experiencing this. Even if their needs are not your needs (for example you don't need outside approval to feel good about yourself) make the decision that their experience is valid and that you will respect this about them.
When relationships have broken down, we need to reopen the dialogue. When you are curious and respectful around what they are experiencing, this is how trust gets rebuilt. Trust to relationships is like yeast to baking bread. So find out their perception and validate their needs.
Once you have started a conversation, if they need more than a dialogue and validation:
#3 Create your longer action plan
What action are you willing to take to elevate their feeling of trust in you? Let say it's more than one thing that needs to be broken down into smaller steps. Start with the final result you are looking for then work backwards. With a paper and pen, think of the previous action to each result until you come to the first action needed to start that new direction.
You now have a longer term action plan and you know that each action should be able to be done in a short period of time. Preferably within three or four days.
Do you feel like you are guessing at the actions? Many of us don't want to make an effort without guarantees. But that's not real life. Just break down the actions into smaller steps and open your mind to the possibilities.
If you're hesitating because you want more guarantees, go back to number 1 and review your commitment level to solving this. Otherwise, your low trust and commitment might poison the well. You want to avoid sabotaging this out of spite.
If this is very uncomfortable so you've been putting it off, it can be helpful to get an accountability person or a sounding board while you figure these steps out. Whether it's a friend colleague or a professional coach you hire, this can dramatically shorten the time to take action improve your outcomes.
#4 How to stop ruminating
When we are anxious or angry, our dinosaur brain, the fight-flight-freeze portion of our brain, is in full swing. That disables our ability to use the executive function of our brain and we cannot problem solve or plan very well. We need to calm that section down.
If you haven't checked out mindfulness or meditation, I strongly urge you to do so.
Mindfulness is a practice where we focus on the here and now in our bodies. We simply need to become very aware of something outside of those negative emotions. Being aware of a part of our body or our breathing takes seconds and can flip a switch.
Imagine suddenly focusing on your big toe right now while taking deep breaths. What do you notice about your toe? Is it hot, or cold or tingly? Really become acquainted with your big toe. Is it comfy or maybe your shoes are too tight?
The biggest problems with anxiety is how we ruminate on the problem making it the whole focus. The brain cannot think about two things at the same time so simply focusing on your big toe takes you away from ruminating. After doing that for a minute, it gives your executive function an opportunity to reboot.
When I was a full time counselor, a really popular thing I taught my clients was my my potato sack meditation. Check out the video I did on it. Just click here.
Successful relationships don't happen in a vacuum.Here are those four steps again for when you are faced with a difficult person:
- Take stock of your commitment to resolve this
- Flip this problem on its head by understanding their position
- Create an action plan
- Quiet your dinosaur brain
The most successful leaders are not infallible when faced with someone who "drives them crazy!" Monique's strategies to empower others to stand up and take control of their personal and professional lives are appreciated by all who meet her. As a Speaker, Facilitator and Consultant helping to reduce conflict and increase collaboration, she draws from 30 years of crisis intervention work to help others increase their confidence to feel more heard, respected and happier.
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A British study published this year in the American Journal of Psychiatry looked at pairs of adult twins, both fraternal and identical, to see how genetics might influence anxiety. The researchers hypothesized that a child with an identical twin for a father would have the same amount of anxiety as their father (or his twin) if the trait is only genetic— he or she would share the same amount of DNA with either of those adults. But they found that when it came to anxiety, children had more in common with their own parents than than they did with their parent’s twin, indicating that the relationship between the parents and children was an important factor in predicting future anxiety. If you’re suffering from anxiety, seeking treatment won’t just help you but it may benefit your children in the short and long term as well.
If you have a beloved pet, you know that it’s good for your quality of life. It’s just nice to have your dog greet you when you get home from work, or your cat cuddle at your feet when you go to bed. But research shows that a pet can be helpful for your mental health too. One recent study found that pets can help lower social anxiety in children with autism, for example. Researchers at Purdue University measured reductions in stress levels for children aged five to 12 and with autism when they were exposed to companion animals including cats, dogs, and guinea pigs.
Untreated anxiety and depression can have negative effects on your physical health as well as your mental health, which is one more reason why access to psychiatric care is so important. For example, research from the University of Edinburgh released this month found that people with anxiety or depression may have a higher risk of dying from liver disease. The connection is not yet clear and more research is needed on the biological links between liver disease and psychological distress, but the findings are considered the first to find a potential link between the two.
Air pollution has already been linked to serious health problems like asthma and heart attacks, and one new study found that particulate air pollution could also be linked to our mental health. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution could cause or intensify anxiety as it causes increased oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. It’s also possible that air pollution could increase anxiety by aggravating chronic health conditions.
Research released in May found that 4.3 Americans with full-time jobs — or 3.7 per cent of adult workers--experienced an anxiety disorder over the previous year. The rate was even higher for those who didn’t have full-time employment: the rate of anxiety disorders in the past 12 months was 5.6 per cent for part-time workers, 6.9 per cent for the unemployed, and 8.9 per cent for those out of the workforce. And anxiety disorders themselves can make it hard to gain or maintain adequate employment.
Nobody knows a child better than his or her parents, but even attentive parents may be missing signs of anxiety in their kids. One study done by Yahoo Parenting and Silver Hill Hospital found that some parents are in denial that their children may be suffering from anxiety or depression. The researchers found that while almost two thirds of the parents they surveyed think their teen child is suffering from anxiety or depression, and nearly half of those teens have talked to their parents about their mental-health issues, only 18 per cent of those teens have received a diagnosis. The good news is that most parents notice their children’s struggles, and many teens feel comfortable talking to their parents about their mental health. It’s important to follow through if you suspect your own child is struggling, because quality care is available and can help.
A new survey from the University of California (UC) indicates that post-secondary students are increasingly dealing with mental-health issues, including anxiety disorders. The UC survey found that incoming college students in 2014 had the lowest self-rated emotional health in the nearly 50 years of the survey’s history. Their worries include anxiety about their ability to find gainful employment after graduation, years in the future.
It’s no surprise that bullying can cause anxiety in children who experience it, but new findings indicate that it can affect mental health even into adulthood.The study also notes the effect is stronger for children who are bullied by peers. A study published this year in Lancet Psychiatry found that children bullied by their peers are at a higher risk for the development of mental-health problems in early adulthood when compared to those who are bullied or emotionally abused by an adult. The findings make it clear that bullying is a serious issue that can have long-term health effects, even when it’s among children.
Research done in the U.K. and published this year in BMJ Open found that men who self-reported abusive behaviours towards their romantic partners were three to five times more likely to report symptoms of anxiety than non-perpetrators. The findings are consistent with past research that has found that men who either have experienced or perpetrated domestic abuse are more likely to experience mental-health issues like anxiety. Studies like these show that doctors treating men for anxiety disorders would be wise to ask about domestic abuse, the researchers said.
Bruxism — more commonly known as tooth grinding — can lead to a host of dental issues, including headaches, jaw pain, loss of tooth enamel, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. And people suffering from social anxiety often experience bruxism, even if the bouts of anxiety are short term. More than 40 per cent of the study participants with a diagnosed social phobia showed moderate to severe dental wear, compared to just over one quarter of the subject without a phobia. And 43 per cent of the group with social anxiety reported experiencing bruxism while awake, compared to only three per cent of those in the control group. People who grind their teeth while awake are sometimes unaware they’re doing it at all, since it tends to be quieter than bruxism that occurs during sleep.
Are you sleeping six or eight hours? Or are you tossing and turning every night with worry? If your sleep is accompanied by respiratory problems like snoring, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness or daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about anxiety, says Dr. Prakash Masand, a psychiatrist and president of Global Medical Education based in New York City.
If you're constantly feeling stressed out about your work life, family life or personal life, it may be a symptom of anxiety. Experts say if your stress is long-term, it could leave you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Not only are you stressed out, but your body also feels like it is burning out and shutting down. Masand says if you feel overworked and it is continuously getting in the way of your day-to-day functioning, it could be anxiety.
If you're constantly and unexpectedly worried, scared or frightened by something with an uncertain result, it could be a sign of anxiety, Masand says. Worrying can be reduced by observing your thoughts and feelings and learning how to take control and accept your current situation — as opposed to being fearful of it, according to PsychCentral.
If you experience stomach knots or upset stomachs that are sudden, it could be another symptom of anxiety. Masand says if your stomach difficulties are also followed by diarrhea, severe constipation, nausea or vomiting, speak to your doctor to rule out other medical conditions.
Masand says you should also be mindful of chest tightening and other symptoms related to breathing and your heart. This may include shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, pressure or fullness in the centre of the chest and/or a radiating chest, arms or back pain. If you have these associated symptoms, you need to seek emergency care immediately.
You may get a headache from time to time depending on your workflow or sleep routine, but Masand says if your headaches are common and also include weakness, dizziness or loss of sensation, talk to your doctor about getting diagnosed.
Along with chest tightness, palpitations and irregular heartbeats are also common signs of anxiety. For some, palpitations can be common — you may feel a sensation of fluttering, throbbing, flip-flopping, or pounding in your heart, according to Harvard's Family Health Guide.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where people experience unexpected and repeated panic attacks from time to time, according to Anxiety BC. Masand says this psychological symptom can also include being worried, scared or irritable.
Besides blurred vision, if your sight is shaky and you have a hard time keeping your train of thought together, Masand says it may be a sign of anxiety. You may feel shakiness in your arms, legs, fingers, toes or your whole body at once.
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