How to turn your anxiety into a super power

For years now I have been doing posts on anxiety where I seek out articles and cite them for the purpose of giving people information. Inevitably many of these articles come boil down to a very simple proposition: change the way you think. I mean anyone with anxiety will tell you If they could do that they would. We get these over simplifications in many areas of life and its tiring. I found an article here that somewhat does this, but gets to the critical aspect of the identification process.

From the article: “Suzuki talks about “the superpower of productivity,” which you can tap into simply by listening carefully to the actual content of your worries. “A very, very common manifestation of anxiety is that ‘what if’ list that comes in your head: What if I get sick with Covid, what if I don’t get an A, what if I can’t remember what the professor said on this part of the test? The superpower that comes with that anxiety-induced what-if list is shifting that into a to-do list,” she explains to Newman. “ 

Chronic Anxiety is like having an itch that you can never scratch.

So the critical point here is identifying the source of the anxiety. Worried about an exam? Study more. I know simple right? The point here is identifying sources of anxiety and attempting to address them directly. This action begins the process of the infamous “change how you think” narrative and why this article is so valuable. You are likely never going to escape anxiety completely but if there are reoccurring issues that create anxiety, identifying them and working toward addressing them directly is going to bare a lot of fruit for your mental state.

Many of us, myself included have a multifaceted issue. Meaning it’s never just one thing, it’s an accumulation of many small issues that converge and lead to intrusive thoughts and debilitating mood swings. Take one issue at a time, if its work, well what part of work specifically? Try and drill down here, get into the weed and really figure out what is driving your anxiety. When you do this you create the conditions by which you can recover faster as you can in many cases address the issue directly and resolve it.

One down, hundreds more to go but its progress….

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Anxiety: Back to Basics

Let me start this post off with a link to a great resource the Anxiety and Depression Association of America . This site has excellent information for anyone who thinks they have an anxiety disorder or knows they do and you just need more information. This website has a lot of information and resources and can assist with a multitude of issues. I strongly recommend taking a look at the site and the reference material it offers.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is essentially a catch all for nonspecific anxiety triggers most of us call them phobias. “GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms” . When I read this I realized that at several points in my life this applied to me. GAD isn’t a constant condition it can come and go but I’ve found in my travels that more often than not it is always present just to varying degrees.

From the Website: “GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.”

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety doesn’t care about your ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

I thought this excerpt from the site was particularly potent. 6.8 million adults… Ya we aren’t alone. I found it very interesting that they claim women are twice as likely to be affected. I can logically extrapolate some instances why, pregnancy, physical appearance and family pressures come to mind. The worse part though is the multitude of factors and the lack of specificity as to why this occurs.

Essentially anything can trigger this, maybe you went to a concert Saturday and your ears were ringing when you got up the next day “am I going to go deaf?” you ask yourself. A common seemingly sterile situation right? So the next time you don’t hear something correctly are you now delving back into anxiety? Technically yes, again its degree’s but you are anxious about a future outcome based on an example of the past. You can’t absolutely say that your past experience will be identical to your future outcome but it’s your best gauge.

Then you begin to think “god if I just didn’t go to that concert I wouldn’t have this issue” and on and on it goes. That’s just one very simple example but it’s a prelude to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There is no definitive moment as to when it begins for anyone, but when you are “in the moments” of anxiety you know it. The sensations are unique to everyone but if you’ve had panic attacks you know the gambit it can run. You can be highly functional and then for days struggle to get out of bed because you can’t overcome the anxiety.

Then, one day you feel good. Not perfect, not “wow that was silly I am free and clear” but the fog clears for you and you go on without worrying about it at all. This is GAD and it can flip day to day, week to week for your entire life. Knowledge is power and remember you aren’t alone. There are millions of people all over the world that have anxiety and deal with it sometimes daily, sometimes randomly sometimes just situationally with specific phobias. Hang in there, one day at a time.

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Anxiety: How to deal with a Recession

Yes, you are going to hear this word “Recession” more and more. Let’s establish clearly what a recession is. A recession, in economics, is a downward trend in the business cycle characterized by a decline in production and employment, which in turn causes the incomes and spending of households to decline. Inflation is part of this but basically the best way to measure a recession is to check on what the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is in your country. If it decreases for two consecutive quarters, it’s a recession.

The GDP is a broad measure, but it encompasses many different economic factors. In the U.S. the 1st quarter of 2022 declined from the previous quarter. So in July we will get the 2nd quarter results for the U.S. and it’s likely to decline again based on the inflation we are seeing. We also have the oddity of the economic conditions from the Pandemic. Manufacturing was silent for long periods decreasing supply (which makes things more expensive). You also had governments increasing their production of currency in the form of aid (increasing the money supply, makes it less valuable). Last, you had many people leaving the workforce. Boomers retired and many people went to the “Gig” economy.

This is putting pressure on companies as there are not enough workers. When you have a shortage of labor, what generally happens is the higher end positions fill up first. What is left is the lower pay jobs that most don’t want to do. So you get this weird situation where there are jobs to be filled but those looking for work don’t want them. Then you get a war, which impacts commodities (oil and wheat) which inflame all of the above.

A storm is brewing, are you ready?

So this is a perfect storm of economic factors. It would be a real stretch to say that a recession isn’t coming. For those of us with anxiety this is going to be the next fear proposition. This will come at a time in the U.S. where mid-term elections are happening as well. It’s going to be a mess if you have anxiety. I wish I had some wonderful advice to get through this, I really don’t. Over the summer the noise will pick up, you will be bludgeoned with it. If a recession drags through the end of the year earnings will be impacted for companies and the employment situation might flip as well.

Yes, this is a mess. So as someone with anxiety how do we deal with this? STOCKPILE CASH NOW. I normally recommend people have a 3-6 month emergency fund, I would now recommend 6-9 months, a year if you can. What is that? You take the average of your monthly bills time 9 months and that amount of cash should be sitting somewhere for you to easily access it. I know that’s a tall order for many but that cash will allow you to weather a short to mid-term storm.

Start tightening up the budget now. Start selling extra possessions you don’t really need/use and bank that money. Hopefully you don’t need it, but I suspect 2022 is going to be a down economic year for the world. I don’t see things improving much until after the U.S. mid-term elections and even then there are no guarantees. Build up your cash reserves now.

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Anxiety – An hour matters     

This is going to be a quick post today but I think it’s a critical “add on” for your life that if you can execute your anxiety will improve. All of us have things going on, work, kids, pets, significant others, parents. On top of that we have 24-7 access to screens which enable us to view every bit of information (good or bad) that is occurring in real time. The environment for anxiety is horrible right now.

There is one quick thing you can do, take an hour. Yes 1 hour a day where the screens are shut off and you do something else. “Well what the hell am I supposed to do?” That’s a good question, below is a list of things I do on my hour.

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Read a book or magazine
  3. Take a nap
  4. Stare at the ceiling
  5. Sit in my car
  6. Go for a drive

Now of course some of these activities aren’t going to be a full hour, they may be more or less. The point here is you have to invest into yourself and recapture time. Time is the most valuable commodity in the world, hands down. By taking 1 hour for yourself you are creating a habit. Ideally this habit grows and you start demanding more then an hour. Soon you will be creating time spaces in your life where you are doing the things you want to do, when you want to do them.

But first, you have to find and take an hour. You can do that.

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The next fear proposition: Oil

Those in power, all over the world maintain it with different forms of fear. The key component to this power is the notion that they are the only ones who can protect you from the fear. It’s a mutation of the old way fear used to work (and still does in some places) that there was an inferred threat of physical harm. Now that still exists to a degree, you have cancel culture as well which affects the same outcome.

Since we had a steady diet of fear for the last two years in the west, it was clearly highly effective. Most people complied, that’s what people in power want your compliance to ensure their security over power. We saw this after 9/11 as well, we got a whole new government agency “Homeland Security” to deal with that fear proposition, I wonder what agency will be created via the pandemic?

We now have a messy situation in Ukraine, it’s horrible. War sucks, but this is by no means exclusive to Russia. The U.S. has engaged in wars in nearly every decade since WWII. The issue here is Russia supply a huge amount of fossil fuels to the world. There’s the rub, and your new fear proposition. You see oil and gas prices will go up, that affects everything. All those goods you buy are delivered by a vehicle that requires an oil product.

Enough
Comply or else

You should start to see $5 for a gallon of gas soon in the U.S. (for my foreign friends that’s very high for us). This war and oil shortage will be the next fear proposition. Watch closely the legacy media and how this is woven into a new narrative. Conservatives will scream about energy independence and how liberals want to crush the economy. Liberals will scream about converting to alternative fuel sources. Both are partially right, and partially wrong.

The issue is, the tone and immediacy that will be presented by each. It will reach a fervor to the point of crisis. How many times did you turn on the news in the last few years and saw “COVID CRISIS”? Its effective, many people succumb to fear propositions. The immediacy of the narrative is the hook, no one is asking “what will this be like in 2025?” you can’t do that because if the threat isn’t imminent it’s not effective to administer control.

Rationing, limits to vehicles I think the sky is the limit here given the absurdity we saw during Covid (this store can open, BUT NOT THAT ONE!!!!!). This will spike your anxiety, cause you to silo people who do not share you view point on the matter and generally continue on the omnipresent cultural “weight” we have had in the west for years now. All sides do this, and for those of us out there in the world trying to make it through another day? Well you are a number, a statistic. Your personal situation isn’t important to those who want power, only your compliance.

This fear cycle is longer than most that I have witnessed. It’s not going to go on forever but those with power have had their “cages rattled” for lack of a better term. Populism, the internet, free enterprise…. They are losing control, and they don’t like it.

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Finance – 3 tips to deal with this downturn

Inflation is real, gas prices in the U.S. will be 4.00 a gallon soon. Russia has invaded Ukraine; jobless claims rose in January. We are in a down turn period, these happen regularly. Is this a market correction? Partially, meaning a lot of the market has been inflated due to low interest rates so high amounts of capital were parked in stocks as CD rates were so low. The fed hasn’t raised rates enough to pull capital out so a true “correction” isn’t in play IMHO.

Covid shutdowns dramatically impacted the supply chain. On top of that governments subsidized citizens with money so you have the perfect storm of more cash in the economy and less goods. This always equals inflation when this occurs. The question becomes how long does it last? My initial guess was by the end of 2022 things would begin to even out. The mask mandates and locks downs are winding down, even with them in place people got covid. We have a war now, that’s a new circumstance.

I think this will go the same way the Crimea annexation went. A lot of saber rattling, sanctions and the people of Ukraine suffer. Simply put, Ukraine is not part of NATO and beyond the current president’s son’s income, there are no strategic interests of the U.S. at stake. It’s by no means a good situation but the predictions of WW3 and doom I think are very exaggerated (but not impossible). So we have a lot factors in play here, 2022 is going to be a down year economically. As I am writing this I think the market is down approx. 9.5% for the year and we aren’t finished with the 1st qtr. yet.

War sucks

How do you deal with it? I am going to give you 3 quick tips below that will help you navigate this down turn.

  1. Emergency fund: This should normally be 3-6 months of expenses; you now default it to 6. This is to help you weather inflation. If an emergency happens it’s going to cost, you more now than it did in prior years. Beef up your cushion.
  2. Secure your income sources: Down turns affect companies as well and if this extends to long (2 full qtr.’s) many companies will be looking to decrease expenses which usually means layoffs. Now is the time to make yourself as valuable as possible to your current employer. You should additionally be focusing on alternative income sources (side hustles) and if you had an idea now is the time to get it rolling.
  3. Hyper budget: This is a term used to really control spending. When things are good spending isn’t a big deal unless it’s a ridiculous expense. You should really be watching your budget closely and being very precise in your spending habits. This isn’t a long term effort here but for the next qtr. (3 months) really be sensitive to your spending habits and cut back where you can.

This slide will turn around, they always do. It’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when. The only scenario where this continues to get worse and doesn’t improve is if the war in Ukraine expands. If Russia invades a NATO country, then all bets are off. You’re going to have much larger problems then a 6 month down cycle if that happens. For now, based on my experience I am betting on the side of a quick conflict and occupation and the damage economically to everyone outside of Ukraine subsiding in 6 months max.

That sucks for people in Ukraine, I don’t want this to seem unsympathetic to their plight but this is a finance piece not a political one. The U.S. every 20-30 years engages in a similar war (50’s Korea, 70’ Vietnam, 80’s Panama, 90’s Iraq, 2000 Afghanistan) so you have those historical markers to gauge the financial impact. In all cases markets and economic indicators dipped, commodities increased and the world has economic down turns for 2-6 months before things leveled off. I see that happening here, our economic issues are more than Ukraine. We were due for a correction, right now we are nearly at a -10% market for 2022 I think this trend will continue through the summer.

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Enough

Never forget – Indulge my rant, I don’t do it often.

Remember this time in our collective history. Remember the pandemic and the voices who demanded cancellation, banning, demonetization. Remember the voices who demanded you be penalized for not conforming to their narrative. Remember the voices who demanded you put something into your body, whether you wanted to or not. Never forget their names, their persona’s, their social media accounts.

These are some of the most dangerous people in the world and the pandemic exposed them.

They are driven by fear, they are weak. These are the types of individuals who will use phrases like “they say” to bolster their arguments as to why you should conform to their desired outcome. You know who they are now, you have no excuses should you chose to engage with them. They were willing to penalize you to the extreme to get their way, will you forget it? Will you offer them quarter when the tide ebbs and in the future they find themselves adrift?

It’s all abstract until you are the one who runs afoul of the narrative. The nature of power is it is all consuming. Those who want it, and taste it, keep pushing for more. Soon even those who wanted you cancelled will be in the cross hairs. Will you come to their aid? Will you stand up for them? Will you recognize that what is happening to them, they themselves tried to do to you?

Plastic destroys the environment
Us vs Them = Garbage

It’s all very dark isn’t it? Its dystopian and it does not bode well for the future discourse. Everyone has a soap box now, a you tube channel, a blog, a podcast. If you were one of those who were advocating penalizing others during one of the most challenging times in our modern social history, you will find many out there who will not forget you.

You typed the words, you created the videos, you made the podcasts, you posted the tweets. You have been exposed, you gave no quarter, and you will get none.

For my frequent readers this is not one of my normal posts and I want to be clear this is not directed at anyone specific. It is more of a cautionary tale really. Consequences is no longer a popular theme in today’s social construct. It’s very rare when it happens, but when it does it can be devastating. Be careful what you say to people, how you frame it, the level of vitriol you emit. The social construct has indeed changed a lot, forgiveness, understanding and compassion are no longer the ideal.

When will the next phase of the social dynamic emerge? Will it be a revisit of our prior ideals or a new harsher one? One based on consequences? I think how we have chosen to treat one another over the last few years is going to have deep social ramifications for many years to come. I for one won’t forget all the noise, the fear mongering, the propaganda, and I won’t forget who was pontificating it. I will never listen to them again.

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How to turn your anxiety into a super power

For years now I have been doing posts on anxiety where I seek out articles and cite them for the purpose of giving people information. Inevitably many of these articles come boil down to a very simple proposition: change the way you think. I mean anyone with anxiety will tell you If they could do that they would. We get these over simplifications in many areas of life and its tiring. I found an article here that somewhat does this, but gets to the critical aspect of the identification process.

From the article: “Suzuki talks about “the superpower of productivity,” which you can tap into simply by listening carefully to the actual content of your worries. “A very, very common manifestation of anxiety is that ‘what if’ list that comes in your head: What if I get sick with Covid, what if I don’t get an A, what if I can’t remember what the professor said on this part of the test? The superpower that comes with that anxiety-induced what-if list is shifting that into a to-do list,” she explains to Newman. “ 

Chronic Anxiety is like having an itch that you can never scratch.

So the critical point here is identifying the source of the anxiety. Worried about an exam? Study more. I know simple right? The point here is identifying sources of anxiety and attempting to address them directly. This action begins the process of the infamous “change how you think” narrative and why this article is so valuable. You are likely never going to escape anxiety completely but if there are reoccurring issues that create anxiety, identifying them and working toward addressing them directly is going to bare a lot of fruit for your mental state.

Many of us, myself included have a multifaceted issue. Meaning it’s never just one thing, it’s an accumulation of many small issues that converge and lead to intrusive thoughts and debilitating mood swings. Take one issue at a time, if its work, well what part of work specifically? Try and drill down here, get into the weed and really figure out what is driving your anxiety. When you do this you create the conditions by which you can recover faster as you can in many cases address the issue directly and resolve it.

One down, hundreds more to go but its progress….

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Justice

Job Advice: The U.S. Supreme court overturned the OSHA mandate. Now what?

This blog doesn’t give medical advice as a normal practice. In terms of covid, the vaccine, etc., my best advice to my readers is to visit your primary care doctor and ask their recommendation. I am vaccinated so is everyone in my family, by choice, not by mandate.

So for my foreign readers a quick background. In the U.S. congress (state and federal) passes bills that once signed by the executive (state or federal) become law. The executive branch, in this case the president of the united states can issue what is called an “executive order”. Every modern President does this, it’s not exclusive to democrats or republicans. This practice falls under our constitution, article 2 which essentially empowers the executive branch to enforce laws.

So here we are in 2022. The last high profile order was the OSHA mandate that required employers of over 100 people to require that their employees be vaccinated or submit to regular testing. This was challenged in court and the supreme court upheld the challenge. Meaning the order is now non enforceable. There are a lot of nuances here I am not going to cover but that is the gist of it.

I don’t get it

So now what? As a U.S. worker what do you do if your employer still mandates a vaccine? Really there isn’t much you can do. You can get it, or you can be terminated. Most employment in the U.S. is “at will” employment, meaning either party can terminate the relationship at any time. However, there is one caveat that has to be noted in the current economic climate. The U.S. job market is red hot, essentially there are not enough workers to cover all the jobs available.

Sure the high paying high profile jobs may not be in abundance but in this scenario job openings filter upward. Meaning a supervisor is going to have to fill in for workers if they don’t have enough, managers of those supervisors have to fill in for the supervisors if the supervisors are filling in for the workers, I think you get the point. So as a worker in the U.S. you are in a leverage position at this point in time. Any employer who places a mandate on you runs the risk of losing you as an employee.

So what do you do? Below are 5 things you should do now as a worker in the U.S. to maximize your labor return in the current job market.

  1. Get vaccinated: Being vaccinated makes you a more desirable candidate for a job right now. Companies don’t want to navigate this mine field. This is an asset, and you should be vocal about the fact you have this asset.
  2. Update your resume: Do it now.
  3. See what’s out there: Even if the vaccine mandate issue isn’t a big deal to you, there are a lot of opportunities out there. Now is the time to explore the job market it is a sellers’ market, and you are selling your labor. You might make up to 20% more just by flipping jobs.
  4. Sit down with your current company: Now is a great time to bring up your future with your company. What you want to do where you hope to be. Again remember they need you, this is your chance to make progress toward a professional goal. This labor dynamic will not last forever.
  5. Diversify your skill set: There are so many side hustles now, so many opportunities to pick up work on the side. Companies are desperate for help, diversifying your skill set and learning new industries makes your personal brand more valuable in the future.

Some may say this is taking advantage of the current situation with a pandemic. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it isn’t, I would be lying to you. I look at this as an opportunity. Let me put it this way. In life there are often people who are given a situation and will complain about it hoping someone will change it for them to make it more favorable. There are others who look at the same situation and figure out how they can best survive and excel.

Be the later in the context of your career. Believe me, if the situation was different and there were more people looking for a job then open positions these companies would squeeze you for as much as they could. The window on this reality is closing, Covid is almost played out. Carpe diem.

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When Anxiety turns into a Panic Attack

If you have anxiety you might be exposed to, or have had a panic attack. This is the physical manifestation of your anxiety. Often it doesn’t play out as the person think’s it will, meaning the “panic” doesn’t nearly equate to the situation more often than not. However, that doesn’t minimize or negate what is actually happening to you. Panic often delves into physical conditions that impact you negatively. Examples:

  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  • Heart palpitations or racing heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Choking feeling
  • Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy

The real problem is these attacks can happen at any time. Literally ANYTHING can be a trigger and this is, for a lot of people where anxiety ends up. They live in fear not of, I don’t know, let’s say spiders, but the PANIC that seeing the spider will invoke. I’ve never had a serious panic attack, I have heard in my life when the subject comes up in my social circle there is an immediate dismissal. “It’s not that bad” or “They made a mountain out of a mole hill”.

Where there is smoke, there is fire.

What that narrative does is it creates the conditions by which someone who might have panic attacks has even more anxiety about it. Our culture celebrates strength and fortitude in essentially all ethnic backgrounds for each gender. Having anxiety that leads to a panic attack doesn’t make you weak, it’s not something you should be ashamed of and if you have people in your life telling you it’s not a big deal you should consider strongly limiting your time with them.

In extreme cases a panic attack can lead to death, either by suicide, heart attack or loss of control of your faculties. BREATHE!

I am not patronizing you, it sometimes is that simple. Even if you are in the middle of a grocery store and you think people are staring at you and you are in full panic, take slow deep breaths. 10 slow deep breaths is a minute of your life, you can do this and any social anxiety you may derive from that 1 minute where you think people are staring at you will dissipate quickly as your panic starts to decrease with every breath.

You aren’t alone, you are not abnormal. You have anxiety and you need to be honest with yourself about it. When in doubt, take a deep breath.

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