Genetics

Anxiety Apps

I spend a lot of time on my phone now from work, I also have two 20 something kids who don’t really understand how to actually make a call (they do I’m just being a chromogen) and everything they are doing now, it seems is on the phone. I don’t have many apps on my phone, as a gamer I spend leisure time on my PC. I suppose it’s generational, as a member of Gen X we still remember rotary phones, pay phones on the street and calling 411 information. Even though my phone is an extremely powerful computer in its own right I just don’t look at it that way.

That’s me. You? Maybe you do a lot on your phone, maybe it’s your primary means of viewing the outside world. I found a great article here on a bunch of apps you can get that help with anxiety.

From the article: “Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems, affecting more than 40 million US adults each year, and COVID-19 is only making matters worse. There are dozens of anxiety-related apps available, offering options that range from guided meditation to the digital equivalent of a fidget cube, but all that choice can be, well, anxiety-inducing. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a guide we hope will make your selection process a little more relaxing.”

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety is common, for some of us its crippling.

The article then goes on to give a very extensive list of apps for all types of anxiety issues. I was honestly shocked at the number of them out there, apps for marginalized communities to organizers, to meditation apps. It’s a great resource and who knows maybe one of these would work for you.

As individuals who suffer from anxiety, it is paramount to be in the headspace that allows yourself the ability to ask for help. Maybe an App is the first step for you to break that ice? I don’t know your personal situation. I do know that any tool we can use that helps us deal with and get through the day to slog of anxiety is a positive.

Maybe one of these apps fits you, maybe it doesn’t, you won’t know until you try so check out a few and let me know what you think!

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Oscar Wilde

“2020 Worst year ever” – Now what?

This will be short and sweet (well maybe a little sour). We can all agree 2020 was a bad year pretty much everywhere. Hopefully you came out of it with minimal scarring but here we are entering the 3rd week of January. When we proclaim “2020 Worst year ever” that leaves us very little wiggle room in 2021. What happens if things don’t go the way you want it? Will it be “2021 worst year ever?”

At some point we have to decide to push back, 2020 was exhausting at every level. IMHO everyone gets a pass for being lethargic, complacent, compliant, apathetic. That’s over now and its time for a good old fashion kick in the ass. We have to get motivated again, we have to push and retake back the things that make our lives have greater value.

I love going to the movies, it’s a simple pleasure really, it’s been tried and tested and a good formula existed. For me that is one of my goals in 2021 is to go back to a movie theatre, get a large popcorn and soda and watch a great movie. I don’t know if it will happen, but even if I have to travel to another state I am doing it.

I have to get out of my home office.

Why? Because that small thing adds value to my life and I miss it and I’m not willing to just let it go. What was it for you? What did you have to let go of in 2020? Get out there and get it back, no more excuses no B.S. I am not going to let people shame me, I’m not going to stay locked inside in fear. Life is to short and time is running out for all of us. I’m not going to be reckless, I will respect other people and their health concerns, I will continue to wear a mask, but I am going to start clawing back the things that made my life more enjoyable.

I know it’s silly, small and stupid “he wants to go see a movie” I know, but I am doing something about it, I am taking back something I once had. I’m not blaming anyone, I am just fighting back against what was “2020 Worst year ever” are you?

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Vaccine Anxiety

So the next phase is upon us, a vaccine. Its great news for millions of vulnerable people who are susceptible to covid and its complications. It’s also great news for those who chose to live in fear for the last near year. I am not trying to minimalize the impact of covid but to say that it’s been driven by fear I don’t think is going too far out on a limb. People are free to believe whatever they want, I encourage people to question conventional narratives. I don’t think it’s ever prudent to follow blindly, I believe strongly you should always trust your instinct. My instinct? I don’t trust government and I certainly don’t trust the media.

What about you? I concede fully just because I feel a certain way that doesn’t mean I am necessarily right. Or more accurately what is good for me might not be good for you. I’m cool with that, lets meet in the middle. So we are at the great spot in this pandemic where we have a vaccine. Yes, it’s because of the government push that we are here, Trumps government to be specific. Presidents rightfully or wrongly get credit when things are good and things are bad.

I know you probably don’t want to hear that, it’s just like my conservative friends don’t want to hear that Obama is largely responsible for the U.S. increasing energy independence. I am getting side tracked here though…. So a vaccine is here, produced in record time and approved in an equally speedy way. Can you trust it? Can you trust a process funded and pushed by a government you might not believe in and a process expedited that normally takes years?

Am I contagious?
Answer = I don’t know.

How anticlimactic I know. We don’t really know what side effects (if any) might occur with this vaccine. Will we be required to take it? How will this requirement be enforced? Where will you fall in to the line of recipients? There are still a lot of unknowns and that can drive anxiety through the roof. I know some people have been feeding on the fear and anxiety for months now. Logging on every day to get their hour by hour update on covid cases, sanitizing their hands because they touched a key board that brought them to a site that discussed covid (I know its hyperbolic, forgive me….)

You are going to be fine, you will survive this and in time, if you want a vaccine you will be able to get it. It’s likely that annually you will be getting this vaccine now. Hang in there, even if you have been consumed with fear over covid, anger at others for not taking it as seriously as you do, relief is on the horizon. This should be a time for you to reflect on what you want the next 6 months of your life to look like. How will you personally come back from the covid crisis? Will this be a battle cry for you? Maybe you will start a blog about some aspect of your experience?

The vaccine is here, don’t succumb to more fear and anxiety about its availability or how many people can get it when. You can’t control that yet, and in time it will be widely available and you will be able to get it if you chose. You’ll then be in a great position to take up the banner for the next fight, should it be mandatory or not? Rest up, the covid wars aren’t over yet. The business of fear is to profitable.

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India

Indian Workers seek Robots?

Once again we visit with our friends in India on the subject of Anxiety and Mental Health. For those of us in the West we sometimes forget that our friends in India, over a billion actually have very similar mental health issues that we do. Sure societal norms are different but at the end of the day we all have social, economic and political pressures we deal with that affect our mental health.

I found an interesting article here That discusses a recent poll that asked Indian workers if they thought robots were better suited to help with mental health issues then humans. A whopping 91% said they would rather talk to a robot then their boss about stress at work. I don’t have the complete statistics on the study, the number of people, the control etc. but I thought it was interested and worthy of a post.

From the article: “Nearly 93 per cent people said their mental health issues at work negatively affect their home life while 95 per cent of those surveyed believed companies should be doing more to support the mental health of their workforce. For the Indian workforce, 65 per cent feel that they are working more than 40 hours per week and 32 per cent feel the burnout from overwork. “There is a lot that can be done to support the mental health of the global workforce and there are so many ways that technology like AI can help. But first, organizations need to add mental health to their agenda,” said Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM.”

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety doesn’t care about your ethnicity.

The context of the article delved deeper into the work place and work place culture in India. Clearly it’s a very stressful environment. Add Covid to the mix and PRESTO you have what was stressful now is toxic. Work isn’t meant to be a bed of roses and simplicity, I think we can all agree on that. However when you have over 90% of your workforce saying the work environment is negatively impacting their home life that is very alarming.

My Indian readers certainly don’t need me to tell them how bad their work environment is, it has to be toxic with those numbers. It’s no wonder they would rather talk to a robot, they would likely get more empathy then from their boss. I’ve been in bad work situations before, I’m in a great spot now and super thankful for it. Regardless of what culture you are in when there are aspects of your life that negatively impact your home life, your sanctuary if you will, that’s critical and has to be addressed ASAP.

What do you do though? You need money so you have to work. Human Resource Dept.? Ya right they have never dealt with a pandemic and these kind of conditions either, they are winging it too. I’d love to say “hey things will get better hang in there”, ya they will but I don’t know when. I can tell you in the States things are still crap here. We won’t get back on the right track socially anyway until the presidential election is over.

I wish I had some great advice for my Indian friends. If talking to a Robot helps, do it. If you are one of my Indian readers just know that this blogger gets it, and so do many others in the west. We understand that stress levels around the globe are spiking. We are rooting for you, just take it one day at a time and enjoy the small pleasures when you can.

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stressed-out-woman

Anxiety & You: Great tips on “how to deal with 2020”

Yes, 2020 has been a bad year all around. Oh you have anxiety or mental health diagnosis? Then 2020 is likely to have been torturous at times. 5-6 weeks out from the U.S. presidential election on top of everything else? Yikes…. There are less and less safe spaces to go to. Many of us are struggling out here and the struggles have so many degree’s to them that there are extreme swings in anxiety all around.

Everyone’s situation is different. Maybe you lost a job, maybe someone you know has passed from Covid. Maybe you have a germ phobia, maybe you just feel general anxiety and have less outlets to relieve it. Whatever your particular situation is, you aren’t alone. I suppose looking forward to a new year is cathartic in a way it’s a “fresh start”. I’m on board for that, I will take any glimpses of hope I can get.

I found a very good article here that offers some tips on how to deal with and get through 2020. These tips can be used really any time in your life but let’s focus on getting to 12.31.2020 and moving on….

From the article: “Usually when we face a threat, we get scared, we get stressed, and we go through our responses,” clinical psychologist and author of Detox Your ThoughtsAndrea Bonior, Ph.D., tells SELF. “Hopefully, we use good coping strategies to get through, but in the very least, the threat eventually goes away and our physiological stress response can reset back to our baseline. The difference here is that we haven’t gotten to reset but everything keeps accumulating anyway.”

Surviving 2020 & covid
That’s 2020 in a nutshell isn’t it? Everything keeps accumulating….

The article has some specific tips you can take to improve your current anxiety levels. Like so many other articles in the vein part of the article, sadly is devoted to the popular notion of “just think of things differently”. I mean I hear and see this in nearly every narrative on mental health issues I am compelled to yell out “IF I COULD THINK OF THINGS DIFFERENTLY I WOULD”

I mean it’s almost as if some of these authors think people with anxiety and mental health issues aren’t aware of this simple yet extremely difficult concept. Yes it would be wonderful to get to that place, I mean in the end that’s what most of us are working toward aren’t we? I digress. The article does have value, there are some very good pieces of advice in here and I don’t want to dismiss the whole thing out of hand because of one conceptual issue I have with the prose. The article correctly lists as its first tip “Focus on getting enough sleep”. This is probably the easiest single thing individuals can do.

The Importance of Sleep
The Importance of Sleep can’t be understated.

I know for some falling asleep is a chore but the point here is you can try and sleep more. Naps, earlier bed times, later awake times. No Dr needed, no medications, you just need a place to lay down. Simplistic? Yes maybe but increasing your sleep just helps all facets of your mind, body and spirit in my opinion.

The article does do a decent job of giving empathy between the lines, the author seems to get it that Mental Health and Anxiety are a constant struggle. She does a great job of talking out the “just think differently” narrative that we aren’t offended or ready to shout like I proposed earlier in the piece. I think articles like this are important for those of us with anxiety and mental health issues to visit regularly.

Yes some of it is redundant but sometimes redundancies drive the point home. We all need a hand in getting through 2020 and looking beyond. I’ve had a bad year, not as bad as some, worse than others but I am committed to pushing forward and I’m looking to pull inspiration from any source I can get. I hope this post, and the article cited gives you some inspiration to push ahead too.

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Covid have you stressed out? You’re not alone.

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about anxiety. Anxiety is becoming more mainstream but let’s face it, most people out there either don’t have it or don’t admit to having it. Enter Covid-19. Regardless of where you fall on the nuances and issues around Covid, it has impacted the globe. It’s everywhere or has been everywhere and for those of us with Anxiety it’s been horrible.

Well we aren’t alone, there are more of us now with anxiety than ever. Found a good article here that talks about google searches for panic attack and anxiety have spiked during the pandemic.

From the article: “Researchers tracked how often people looked up phrases including “panic attack,” “anxiety attack,” “am I having a panic attack?”, and “anxiety attack symptoms” using Google Trends data, and analyzed how often these phrases were searched for in the U.S. between January 2004 and May 2020. After adjusting for variables such as population growth and increased internet use over the past 20 years, the researchers found that these anxiety and panic attack searches reached an all-time high between mid-March and mid-May.”

“Anti-anxiety medication prescriptions spiked 34.1% during the week ending March 15.” according to Express Scripts

Not surprising to many of us I am sure. The article goes on to illustrate increases in anxiety medication along with other interesting statistical data specific to the pandemic period in the U.S. (March 15 – Present). It’s interesting to see how things are shaping up for this period of time. 2020 is truly going to be one of the worst years in recent memory and we still have an extremely toxic presidential election to get through.

If you have anxiety issues, take heart in the knowledge that you are not alone, not by a long shot. The silver lining here is more and more people are entering into the conversation and seeking help. This helps drive the narrative going forward as we live in a capitalist society, demand will dictate supply.

My hope is that on the back end of 2020 we look back on one of the most stressful anxiety filled years since the 60’s that we have more tools to address mental health issues going forward. We have to try and find as many positives as we can.

No it’s not a good thing that anxiety has spiked, there are people really suffering out there. Let’s hope when we come out of this (and we will) that more awareness = better outcomes of all.

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Philippine diocese creates mental health ‘hopeline’

Hello to all my friends in the Philippines! Yes I see you, I know a large % of my audience is from the Philippines! Came across an article on how the church is working to help people effected by mental health issues. Again, more services, regardless of source is a net positive for those suffering from mental health issues. You can find a link to the article here.

From the article: “Covid Hopeline” is phone-in counselling service of the Diocese of Kalookan in Metro Manila.  Its team of mental health experts and priests provides psychological and moral support to those suffering anxiety and stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. 

“We launched our own ‘Hopeline’ so that we’ll be able to help our people in the diocese when they need the guidance of a priest or a psychiatrist,” Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan told Church-run Radio Veritas.”

Regardless of your religion, help is out there if you need it.

Now as many of you know I am not Christian. That said I support any and all institutions that support mental health issues. Everyone is affected by the pandemic, those of us with mental health issues this can be hell as we are already prone to anxiety attacks. Having hotline and support networks are extremely helpful. Of course we have to be mindful of cultural differences as well.

I am not going to profess to be an expert in south East Asia or its social dynamics but in an ideal world friends and family in all cultures can recognize issues with people they care about and encourage them to get help. This blog is an example, anyone can view it who has internet access. Maybe it helps? Maybe you are in the Philippines or Kazakhstan?

Point here is take advantage of the resources available to you. The goal is more than just getting through the day it’s to learn how to live with anxiety and have the best life you can. Maybe this hope line can help you? Maybe you know someone with issues that could use the help? Everyone’s situation is different but if you are reading this then you are somewhere in the mental health sphere, take the next step and use the resources or tell someone you know about it.

Covid 19 will pass, something else will come up. You or someone you know will likely always be in the midst of war with anxiety and mental health issues. Fight back, you can win. You are doing awesome, one day at a time.

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Beyond the Trees

Middle of the week grind

One thing I will say about the Covid Crisis is since I have been working from home I have had a lot of opportunities to get outside. Not going to be a long post today but what I will say is if you can go somewhere and see something new if possible. As individuals with Anxiety 2020 has been one hell of a year. For me I’m hanging in there pretty well, I hope you are well. Today I’m heading to the spot below.

I’ve visited here before it’s about 8 miles from my house. I live somewhere in the middle of New England and I have all sorts of parks near me which is great. Getting outside and getting away from screens is like an expresso shot for your soul. Ya I love being online, not going to lie about that. However being online nearly 24/7 can be draining. It’s a constant stream of negativity it’s like everyone is at each other’s throats.

So I’m taking a quick break and going outside today, see if I can find a waterfall and let the noise of dropping water consume me. I find it pretty relaxing, minimally it’s all I can think about as it’s pretty loud, LOL. Is your anxiety flaring up today? Go back to nature you won’t regret it!

Interested in another post about getting outside? Check out my post here.

Genetics

Navigating Anxiety Spikes amid “reopening”

Depending on where you are the world around you is re-opening. For better or worse, here we go and as individuals with anxiety this will be a challenging period. We all have our own feelings on the pandemic, I have restricted my personal opinions (mostly) as I don’t seem to have a mainstream point of view. Needless to say as a libertarian this has been a very curious time. Without being cavalier though I concede fully, just because I feel a certain way doesn’t mean its right way.

We all have to navigate this stage of the game in our own way. I found a good article here that discusses how we might manage our anxiety as we all venture back out.

From the article: “The days and weeks ahead are sure to bring a good deal of anxiety, as so much uncertainty remains about COVID-19. While staying home all the time might not have been fun, it also removed many sources of stress, especially concerns about catching the virus. With our reemergence comes many questions about whether we’re doing the right thing and if we’re being careful enough—and of course concerns about the actions of others. Are our leaders making the right decisions? Will others thrown caution to the wind and get you sick?”

We can haggle over timing and specifics but I think we can all agree at some point we have to open back up. We cannot sustain the current model long term, it’s going to devastate our economy and residually negatively impact Millions more, if not Tens of Millions.

All that aside what about you and your anxiety? What do you do if you still are uncomfortable or are struggling with how to proceed? Your mental and physical health are paramount and just because everything is opening back up it doesn’t mean you have to be compliant.

Let’s be blunt, you are the best gauge of how you feel and how you think you can best move forward in this new reality. All the blog posts, all the comments, all the news outlets, all the government are not experts in you.

If you are uncomfortable, that’s okay. You make gradual small steps back to where you were before. As an example, a trip to the post office might be your weekly excursion back out there for now. That’s okay, you do not need to rush. As long as you have a secure income source, take your time and take care of your mental health.

There are many people out there now who are sick and tired of all this. That’s their right, it’s also your right to take things at your own pace. Stay safe, and take care of yourself.

The Importance of Sleep

Is this all a bad dream?

Do you remember your dreams? Parts of them? I do I have good dreams, I am thankful as I do know someone who has told me in the past they have vivid bad dreams. She claims they are the kind that wake her up at night. Now I have had those kinds of dreams before, you know your leg jumps, you fall and you wake up? I don’t have them regularly though. Apparently many people right now are having very vivid dreams tied to anxiety.

I found an interesting article here that discusses the issue

From the article: “In essence, our bodies are in a flight or fight response, which, as we know from watching any horror movie, is incompatible with sleep,” said Jason Ellis, a professor of sleep science at England’s Northumbria University and the director of Northumbria Sleep Research Laboratory. He and his colleagues recently published an article in the Journal of Sleep Research about practical tips for dealing with sleep problems during home confinement. He calls our unprecedented circumstances “the perfect sleep storm.” 

That maelstrom, he said, is unlikely to increase the amount of dreams we actually have, but it’s likely to increase the amount of dreams we remember. “The question,” he said, “is, why is the content so weird?”

The point here is people are remember more of their dreams, not actually having more. The article does a good job of giving examples and correlating the dreams to increased anxiety levels due to Covid 19 concerns. On this blog I have given out dozens of posts on how to fight anxiety, one of the key weapons we use is a good night’s sleep. So where does that leave us now?

We have to create the conditions of relief BEFORE we go to bed at night. If you are having bad dreams and they are becoming more and more vivid below are three things you can do before bed to help you first, get a better night’s sleep, second reduce the vivid bad dreams.

  1. 2 minutes of deep breathing: in through the nose out through the mouth. The deepest breaths you can take, in the dark in your bed sitting up. Do this BEFORE you lay down.
  2. Screens off 30-60 minutes before you retire: I’m not going to go on and on about how much screen time you should have. If its 15 min or 15 hours, you need to shut off the screen an hour (ideally) before you lay down to sleep not shut down and then go to bed.
  3. Prior to logging off the screens, laugh: Watch a funny video, read a joke, read a positive story. Whatever you have to do to actually laugh and smile do it. This will be the last “imprint” on your brain before you retire.

These steps are of course in reverse order. However they are listed in order of importance. Do step 3, then 2 then 1 and you will have the best result. Minimally you do step 1 every night. IF you are having more and more bad dreams due to the heightened anxiety world we are currently in, try these steps they will help you.

You are doing awesome, one day at a time.