Category: <span>Mindfulness</span>

woman wearing eyeglasses in grayscale photography

The Uninvited House Guest: Emotions

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No one likes to experience worry, embarrassment, shame, anxiety, or the type of intense sadness that feels like a heaviness that will not go away. It’s uncomfortable, intrusive, takes away your sense of control, and often feels like an uninvited guest. If only we could make it go away. Bye girl, and don’t slam my door on the way out! 

Yeah, if only. 

Who doesn’t want to feel good? We live in a world where sunshine and everlasting rainbows dripped in positivity are constantly promoted. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of positivity, but when it means chasing away those negative feelings at any cost, that’s when it can become problematic. In my work, I’ve come across some pretty creative ways of avoiding feelings: 

  • Never noticing and talking about it 
  • Laughter at awkward times
  • Shopping sprees
  • Late-night eating while binge-watching Netflix
  • Oversleeping 
  • Walking away at the height of an argument 
  • And [enter your habit here]

These may be great momentary fixes, but the truth is, they only serve to invalidate your experiences. Without fail, the uncomfortable emotions will resurface again and run wild, often with greater intensity than before. 

Have you ever wondered why your emotions are showing up in the first place? And where you learned to dismiss them? Is it a process you observed while growing up? Or maybe said to you with words like “boys don’t cry,” or hearing phrases like: “you’ll be fine” when it sure doesn’t feel that way at the moment, “toughen up,” or “calm down.” 

Invalidation is sneaky, and the consequence is a human who learns not to acknowledge their emotions without judgment or trust their emotional experience. Worse yet, you realize it’s not worth it to open up to others about how you feel because it comes at the uncomfortable risk of again being dismissed or feeling unheard. 

If I were to sum it up, there is nothing wrong with you. You are not defective because you worry sometimes, are scared of becoming depressed again or aren’t happy all the time. Our life is richer because of our emotional experiences. Emotions allow us to tune in to what we need. It gives us grounds to ask for clarification and express our needs. It fosters attuned leaders and skills like compassion and creativity. Learning to welcome your emotions gives us a real sense of flexibility, freedom, and control.

practice noticing your emotions, awareness of emotions, managing emotions

So how do you embrace your emotions and get to that kind of magic? 

Feelings are just information. One of my favorite books is Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein. The book invites you to look at your emotions like a guest, but instead of shutting the door in its face, asking it why it’s here. We all experience a wide range of emotions, and to better respond to them, we have to take the time to understand them. 

Start with taking some space when you notice a difficult emotion. It may mean excusing yourself from an argument with a scheduled time to return, stepping out of the office for a bathroom break, or closing your eyes for a few moments to disconnect. At that moment, find your breath. Use it to anchor you. Try something like four square breathing. Slowing your breathing allows your automatic nervous system to regulate and brings more ease to your body and your mind. It would look like this:

1. Bring your attention to your breath.  

2. Inhale and slowly count for four seconds. 

3. Hold for four seconds. 

4. Exhale and slowly count for four seconds.  

5. Hold for four seconds.

6. Do this four-five times. 

When you feel that shift in your emotion or feel overwhelmed, angry, or frantic, pause and just breathe. Once you settle down, you can explore with curiosity the emotions that kicked this off in the first place. 

What is it trying to bring to your attention (like maybe you’ve taken on too many tasks, need more support, worry about an outcome, etc.)?

It’s a great way to learn to notice and read your body signals as you would shift in temperature and the weather. This practice can help you recognize and understand the messages that speak to what you need or don’t need to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Psychotherapist, Mental Health Trainer, Black Therapist, Coach

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Speaker, and Mindset Coach for high-achieving women in business. Her joy is tackling mental health on multiple platforms.

Related Reads:

15 Quotes to Calm Your Anxiety as an Entrepreneur

My Thoughts Support My Success

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you decide to buy to support our tea-drinking habits at no cost to you. 

overthinking, anxious thinkin

Simple Ways to Calm an Anxious Mind

Do constant worries and anxious thoughts plague you? These three simple tips can help calm your anxious mind and lower your anxiety.

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Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

At any time in the day, do you have at least five things going on in your head and three things happening at your desk simultaneously? When we are constantly trying to problem solve, fix, plan, save or organize something, it can be the gateway to anxiety in your life (well disguised as multitasking or being somebody’s hero). 

I see a lot of professional and ambitious women who are constantly on the go and pride themselves on their ability to multitask. They are often surprised that they are overwhelmed, always overthinking, stressed, physically a hot mess, and anxious. Does that sound like you?

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

  • Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
  • Having a need to constantly be doing something
  • On the verge of panic or afraid, you will have a panic attack
  • Constant worry, overthinking, or feeling like you always need to be doing something
  • Trouble focusing or making decisions
  • Disrupted relationships (passive aggression, easily reactive, anxious attachment, fear of rejection)
  • Avoiding things that trigger anxiety (projects, pending deadlines, socializing, etc.)
  • Headaches, stomach issues, tiredness, shortness of breath, butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, or everything
Free Child Anxiety Test

What anxiety steals 

Anxiety not only affects the mind but the bodies of individuals. The most concerning part for the clients I support is it’s a feeling that keeps you from being present in your everyday life. It’s sometimes a false sense of doing, but in fact, you have accomplished much of nothing and drained yourself physically and mentally. 

You can inadvertently be involved with multiple projects and ideas, but not giving each the full attention it needs- so really making little progress, missing mistakes, and not as efficient as you could be. You could also be responding to internal fears and avoidance that your busyness gives you the luxury of avoiding. On a day-to-day basis, anxious overthinking, constantly doing, and this drive for constant achievement can make you overlook the details of life. Details like your strengths, success, reasons to smile and celebrate, social connections, opportunities to help and serve- the things that give life meaning and value. 

Let’s dive in deeper. How often have you worried, dreaded things that never happened, or thought yourself out of doing something? How often do your worst fears come true? How much time and energy did you spend on those what-if scenarios that could happen in the future? Facts- it only robbed you of the present.

 

 

 

When you are overly focused on future fears, it contributes to anxiety. When we look back too much on past issues and what could’ve been, it kicks up depression, both of which don’t allow you to enjoy what is.

What can you do to calm your anxiety?

The first step is recognizing that you have anxiety. That drive you wear as a badge, the trouble turning your mind off at night, those heart palpitations and GI issues, yup, that’s anxiety and anxiety is exhausting. 

It’s valuable to learn to live in the moment and stop waiting until everything is perfect before doing the things we feel we need to do. Mindfulness and the power of stillness and awareness is one way to calm the anxious body and mind. 

ANXIETY, OVERTHINKING

Tip 1: Infuse Mindfulness Into Your Life

You can improve your health every day by taking time to pause and create space for yourself. By starting a mindfulness practice, you will notice that you can calm your anxious mind. You may first notice how hard it is to sit still or be comfortable with “doing” in a different way. Still, you can interrupt the endless loop of anxious thoughts and worries by being fully engaged in the present moment. 

Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. That means noticing what you are doing and where you are, without worrying about the future or the past.

Let’s practice: I invite you to take three deep breaths. After each breath follow the instruction.

First breath: Bring your full attention to the breath in your nose and out your nose or mouth. Whatever feels right at this moment. 

Second breath: Relax the body. Drop your shoulders.

Third breath: Ask yourself: What’s important right now? 

To be clear, the practice of slowing down doesn’t stop the thoughts. Thoughts will come and go while you tune into your breath or your focal point, but the key is to notice and let it go. It’s about not entertaining the bazillion ideas that come to mind. Attachment to these thoughts and outcomes is often where our pain and distress are often rooted. 

When I was walking out of the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave behind my bitterness and hatred, I’d still be in prison.”

Nelson Mandela, after being release from prison

Tip 2: Add a Guide to Strengthen Your Experience

Left up to our devices we sometimes deviate from the plan. An easy way to stay on course is to introduce a guided practice. I often use Stop, Breathe, Think on youtube for guide exercises with clients and they also have an app. Calm.com is also another great option, and to add tapping which is another way to use your brain to reduce stress. Try this example by black Psychologist Damon Silas.  

Turnaround

Tip 3: Practice often 

Being Mindful is a practice that gets easier the more you do it. So get creative, and RIGHT NOW, think of 5 places or times you can intentionally pause to engage in this practice. My top 3 places:

  1. With clients in session 

(Join our next pay what you want mindfulness session for Minority Women who lead here)

  1. In the car before I go into the house after work
  2. After a workout or before bed  

The most important thing you can do is give yourself a moment to breathe and be still. Learning how to become still is a gift in itself. 

Don’t forget to share where or when you will practice mindfulness in the comments below.

Amanda Fludd, Psychotherapist, Mental Health Trainer & Mindset Coach

4 Useful Ways to Ease the Stress of Change for Women Who Lead

The mass exodus back to normal has heightened stress levels, and it’s important to acknowledge that change can be stressful. If you are someone who gets upset and loses focus when things don’t go as expected or strongly dislikes change, automatically expects the worst, and struggles to adapt, this piece is for you.

 

Do you think we are ready to return to ‘normal’? 

Well, whether we’re fully ready, we have to be prepared and adapt. In the ever-changing landscape of life and work, adaptability is a crucial skill for managers, leaders, and anyone looking to navigate change successfully. Adaptable people tend to be happier and more content as they’re not struggling against the resistance of change, and can skillfully ride the wave.

 

The Brain Behind Change

Our brain hates the unknown that comes with change, and that can show up as anxiety, which is your brain’s way of protecting you from the unfamiliar. However, that can mean saving you from a necessary or required action. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.” The threat is that feeling of not knowing and the associated fear of what could happen in the future. Sometimes that fear is rational, and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s about something that will happen in three minutes (getting on a call to close a deal, for example) or in 30 years (having enough money to retire).

Depending on how you respond to your brain’s conceptualization of the fear can make change or transitions so difficult. It’s easy to feel powerless in these moments, but your power is in the ways you decide to navigate change.

You can decide how you want to think about the situation and what you want to do about it.

We can’t resist returning to work, going back to college, or whatever transition is on the horizon, but you always have a choice within the change. I’m not dismissing that it won’t be hard at times, but this is about being skillful so you can continue to live, lead, and enjoy life.

Let’s jump to 4 quick tips to navigate change and ease the fear of transition:

  1. Notice when an interaction or the thought of a situation upsets you and examine why. Acknowledge out loud any unhelpful thoughts going through your mind, then take those thoughts and challenge their accuracy to determine whether they represent reality. Perhaps you can then find another way to think about them that allows you to move forward.
    How you think or what you are ruminating over is often connected to the experience of procrastination, perfectionism, overwhelm, or feeling unmotivated. Learn to challenge and change the thoughts behind those responses.
  1. Successful leaders often react to anxiety by working harder, holding themselves and others to impossibly high standards, only to cause further stress or burnout in themselves and others. Examine your use of time and what you are asking of others. Putting in place a support infrastructure that includes breaks for you and your team and time to discuss expectations openly.

 

  1. Find a practice that eases your stress. Sometimes our minds operate like a runaway train. If you can quiet your mind for just a moment, you may notice there is always a fork in the road. One road allows your anxious thoughts to derail you, and the other will enable you to inject more positive thoughts and intentional actions.This can look like daily mindfulness practices, laughing, or sometimes more high-intensity activities like running or a good cardio workout. These practices short circuits the stress response by getting you out of your head, incorporating your body, and allowing the experience of stress, anxiety, and worry to subside.
  2. Don’t stay on your island; build connections. You are an expert at what you do, and getting things done is your superpower. However, we all will face the challenge of transitions and change that can make you feel alone or cause you to isolate and withdraw. Do the opposite. Instead, try coming out of your office and chatting with a colleague, or reach out via text, call a friend or  maybe even perform a quick act of kindness. Be open to also ask for help or outsource tasks to create more time and space for wellbeing.

 

In this time of crisis and change, where many are experiencing anxiety for the first time, it is an opportunity to develop our ability to adapt and contribute to a culture the prioritizes the importance of emotional wellbeing.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, supporting the ambitious mindsets of women, and improving mental health in all settings. The goal is to simply get you out of your head, so you can stress less, and focus on your success.

Make sure to register for “Catch your Breath” a free live mindful practice series for Minority Women Who Lead running through the end of July 2021. UPDATE: The series was such a success it WILL CONTINUE through the end of 2021. Every first Monday of the month.  #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

 

Sometimes I Sit and Wish I Was A Kid Again

Feelings of nostalgia are common when remembering the care-free days of childhood, when we couldn’t wait to grow up. Those were idle moments, when our spirits were light and the possibilities were endless before trading in books in our backpacks for responsibility.

Our imaginations knew no bounds- we were pirates who conquered the sea, or scared but brave kids who went past the invented line down the block that your parents told you not to cross. As kids, we had incredible capacity to dream and create before we grew up and the world dictated how our stories should go.

If your imagination were a muscle, would you say that it grew with over time or has it become weaker over time? The sad truth is that, as we grow up, the world places more emphasis on reality and because of that our creative power diminishes and we become slaves to routine and the norm. Ever wonder how we might get back to that place of freedom and wide-open curiosity? Is it even possible to reconnect with our inner child in order to repair the damage that societal pressures have caused? Absolutely! We can strengthen that muscle that has weakened over time.

By tapping back into our own originality, creative visualization, and spending time in free-spirited play, and embracing all that is possible in this moment right now, it is possible to once again view the world (and ourselves) as we did when we were kids.

Buckle up! The Way to Rekindle Your Relationship with Your Inner Child Is About to Be Revealed …

1. Drop the leather brief case and go play – go for a bike ride, escape around the block before your kids notice, or take 5 minutes on a swing set. Photo by Malcolm Garretfrom @malcolmgaret

Photo by Malcolm Garret from Pexels

2. Train that imagination muscle – make time to think of scenarios outside of reality that bring you joy. Write down what your dream life looks like.  Have fun envisioning a lifestyle that appears impossible to achieve in as much color and description as you can and put it up somewhere you can see it.

3. Get creative – color a picture, throw some paint on a blank canvas, mash up some playdough…anything that has minimal rules involved and will give you a feeling of freedom.

4. Ask yourself – what brings me joy? Sit for a moment and plot out a list of things that you like to do regularly and would like to do if you had more time. Maybe it’s going for a walk, cooking, hot yoga, horseback riding, karaoke, playing an instrument, window shopping, or checking out a Broadway play. Collect a list of your toys and then schedule a play date with yourself!

5. Borrow a kid– If you have access to your own kids, or maybe can borrow one, like your niece or godchildren, put down your phone and join them in what they love to do. Ask them why they love it and play without judgment in their space if even just for 20 minutes and see what magic happens for them and you. If you don’t have access to a kid, then who else can you recruit as a partner in crime? 

Charles Bukowski once said, “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

Taking time out of our lives to reconnect with our inner child gives us room to strengthen our sense of self.  Not only does it crack the door to self-discovery, but it totally kicks it in and demolishes all the walls that were around it (walls created by ourselves and our perceptions of what the world wants us to be). Learning how to be a kid again is the ticket to remembering our authentic selves and allows us to gift our uniqueness and originality back to the world.

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R @Kensho Psychotherapy #Therapyisdope

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