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How to Avoid the Fog of Overwhelm Part II

Overwhelm

In my last post, Avoiding the Fog of Overwhelm Part I, I discussed the state of overwhelm, what it is, how it happens and how it affects us.

To recap briefly, overwhelm happens when there is too much information (message units) coming into our conscious awareness. Our minds only have a certain capacity, like a cup that you can only pour so much water into. When are minds are filled to capacity, and stuff keeps pouring in, we lose the ability to cope.

At this point, our ancient survival mechanism, that good old fight or flight, gets triggered. When that happens we become what is known as “hypersuggestible” which means that we are susceptible to whatever is coming into our minds. We are actually in a state of hypnosis, but the suggestions we are giving ourselves are not positive, like the positive suggestions you get in a hypnotherapy session.

Usually, when we are overwhelmed, there is an accompanying state of stress; the conversations we are having in our heads are usually negative conversations. So, when we are overwhelmed, we can literally be programming ourselves for negativity and fear and we end up with a reinforcing cycle of overwhelm.

Each persons’ response to the state of overwhelm varies, ranging from a complete shutdown where someone might just slump into a chair and begin to cry, to irritability or anxiety, or to a feeling of being disoriented or “spaced out”, which I call the fog of overwhelm.

The end result is the same: we become ineffective in dealing with the challenges of life. We may lose the ability to be focused and on task, turn to avoidance or procrastination, or begin to feel anxious or depressed.

It’s important to note that for many of us, the modern American lifestyle lends itself to consistent feelings of being overwhelmed.

So what can we do to avoid the fog of overwhelm? Most of the things we can do involve basic self care.

  1. Get adequate sleep and take naps if you need to. Remember how your mind is like a cup? Every day it gets filled up with tension, pressure and the stress of living. Sleep is the time for your mind to empty the cup. Strive for a healthy sleep schedule and avoid stimulants such as caffeine, electronic devices, and working out just before bed.
  2. Don’t skip meals. Some people are prone to anxiety and overwhelm due to low blood sugar. Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is the main fuel for your body. Your brain uses more glucose than any other organ in your body. Do you ever get that feeling of lethargy or lack of focus in the late afternoon? Take a break and eat something with protein.
  3. Take breaks. Taking regular breaks throughout the day allows your mind to process incoming information more effectively. Breaks are scientifically proven to boost productivity and focus. Consider working in hour or 90 minute spurts, then taking a short five or ten minute break. This includes taking regular vacations and days off.
  4. Exercise. I know, you’re tired of hearing it, but exercise allows our body and minds to release tension and stress. If nothing else, get up and walk around.
  5. Meditation, yoga and other mindfulness practices. Powerful ways to feel more calm and more focused more often.
  6. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking can create overwhelm. Your focus is sharpest when it’s narrow and concentrated. One thing at a time: first this, then that.
  7.  Keep your vices in check. Alcohol and marijuana are hypnosis inducing drugs, not only when you are under the influence, but the next day as well. Check in with yourself to see if you need to make some changes in these habits.
  8. Count yourself out of hypnosis/overwhelm. When you find yourself overwhelmed, and starting to stress out, count yourself out of that negative state. Say out loud to yourself, if you can, “12345 Eyes open wide awake!” Clap or rub your hands together to get back into your body and out of your head.  This really works.

Take some time to go down this list and see what you can tweak and make better. You’ll find that you’re happier, more focused and productive, and a lot nicer to be around.

Having trouble sleeping? Challenged by anxiety? Need motivation to exercise? Click here to contact me for a free 30 minute consultation. 

Photo by Sb2s3

Social Anxiety: How to Feel Comfortable Socially

Social anxiety

The first time I went to a business mixer, I was so nervous about meeting other people, that after getting a drink, I went and stood in a corner next to another guy who also seemed to have the same problem. That’s where I stayed the whole night.

Have you ever walked into a social situation with fear or dread about what you will say or do in front of other people? If so you have experienced social anxiety. 

Social anxiety is a feeling of discomfort or fear in social situations where a person is concerned about being judged or evaluated. There’s usually an intense fear of what others are thinking about them.

Social anxiety is typically a part of childhood development, and most kids grow out of it. If they don’t, however, it can turn into chronic social anxiety in the teenage years or even into adulthood.

Of course, we want to be sensitive to social norms, and we expect to be judged to some extent on how we are dressed, how are act, what we say and how we interact with others. This is a normal part of the social process. If this fear of the expectation of others becomes too severe it can affect a person’s quality of life.

Social anxiety that is chronic and disabling is called social anxiety disorder. This is social anxiety that interferes with a person’s daily activities. According to Harold Leitenberg in the  (1990) “Handbook of Social and Evaluation Anxiety”, roughly 40 million American adults 18 years or over have an anxiety disorder.

People that suffer from social anxiety usually feel all the symptoms of anxiety including:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweaty palms
  • Trembling
  • Dry mouth

There is the tendency to have negative and unrealistic thinking:

  • I’m such a loser.
  • Everybody is looking at me.
  • Everybody knows that I’m nervous
  • I don’t belong here.

This leads to unproductive behaviors such as:

  • Arriving then leaving quickly
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with social situations
  • Excessive grooming so that they look “perfect”
  • Spending too much  time on phones or devices or hiding in a corner to avoid contact.

Almost everyone can benefit from healthy social interaction. Avoidance because of social anxiety not only leaves one alone and isolated, but can affect self esteem and result in lost opportunities for meaningful personal and business relationships.

You can learn to be comfortable in social situations and release social anxiety. It takes practice.

Here are some tips for dealing with social anxiety.

  • Become aware of when your social anxiety gets triggered. Is it at the supermarket? Parties? Meetings? Get clear about when your feel the most uncomfortable. You can then be better prepared for those situations.
  • Take someone with you. When I got back from the mixer that I told you about, my wife asked me how many people I met. I said “None”. She went with me to the next mixer and introduced me around. It really helped. Find someone that is more outgoing than you are, and have them help you meet people and show you how it’s done.
  • Ask questions. If you are concerned about what to day in a social situation,get good at asking questions. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Ask questions such as: What do you do? Where are you from? What made you come here today? Get people talking and you won’t have to fumble for things to say.
  • Create a script. Have a script of things you want to say or talk about. Don’t wing it, be prepared with questions you can ask or topics you can talk about.
  • Make sure you eat. Social anxiety can be triggered by being hungry. If you are going to put yourself into a situation where there might be some social anxiety, make sure you eat something before you go.
  • Practice. Find someone you trust and practice making conversation comfortably. Or join  clubs or take classes where you will become “desensitized” to social anxiety through exposure to situations where you will be meeting new people.
  • Mental rehearsal. Before you go into a social situation, imagine yourself feeling calm, relaxed and comfortable. Take some time to relax your body. See yourself having interesting conversations, smiling and having fun.
  • Be realistic in your thinking. Are people really judging you? Is everybody really looking at you? How do you now the other people are better or smarter than you? Examine and try to replace thoughts that don’t serve you with positive affirmations such as “I can do this!”

As a hypnotherapist, I help people deal with social anxiety. I offer a complementary 30 minute phone consultation. If you are ready to release social anxiety, don’t wait any longer. You can contact me by clicking here.

Ted

Photo by Durdana shoshe

How to Ease Anxiety About Dental or Doctor Visits

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Want to learn how to ease anxiety about dental and doctor visits? Watch this video.

I was recently asked by Dr. Jack Von Bulow of Temple City Dental Care to give a presentation on how to ease anxiety about dental and doctor visits.

We all know that to maintain our dental and physical health, we need to pay regular visits to the dentist or doctor.

However, many people are prevented from getting the care they need because of the fear and anxiety they have about going to the dentist or the doctor or even thinking about a doctor or dental visit.

In this video recording of my presentation on July 30th, I discussed five simple things that you can do to ease anxiety about dental or doctor visits.

Download handouts on how to ease anxiety about dental and doctor visits.

 

Handouts were available at the event,  including “5 Things You Can Do to Be More Comfortable, Calm and Relaxed When Visiting Your Doctor or Dentist” and Dr. Jack has generously provided them for download on his website.

You can get them by clicking here.

If you do even one of the five things I’ve suggested, you will get some relief. If you do all of them, you may experience a definite reduction in your fear and anxiety. I’ve even provided step by step instructions on the steps to take leading up to your appointment.

If you know anybody that suffers from fear and anxiety about going to the doctor or dentist, please forward this information to them.

Ted

 

 

 

 

Meditation: Is it for You?

Meditation

Young children meditating in a Peruvian school.

“Meditation is a lifelong gift. It’s something you can call on at any time. I think it’s a great thing.” ~Paul McCartney

“At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I’ve made mountains out of molehills. With meditation, I can keep them as molehills.~Ringo Starr. If you are old enough, you know that Paul and Ringo hung out in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation.

“I’m quite a neurotic thinker, quite an adrenalized person. But after meditation, I felt this beautiful serenity and selfless connection.” ~Russel Brand. He’s kinda wacky. He probably should be meditating or on meds.

“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.”  ~Hugh Jackman. The Wolverine meditates?

“We all have within us a deep well of creativity, which we can access if we can settle down into those deep, calm places, those serene moments that Transcendental Meditation offers.” ~ That’s Dr.Oz, vice chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University in New York City where he performs more than 300 heart operations a year.

Meditation seems right for some well known celebrities. So it it right for you? 

There are many ways to define what meditation is. Most definitions agree that meditation (often referred to as mindfulness practice) is a practice used to bring the mind and body under greater self control for mental well being, relaxation and concentration,  building one’s energy or life force, or to foster qualities such as compassion, love and forgiveness.

Meditation has been practiced since antiquity mostly as a part of religious traditions and beliefs. There are meditation practices that involve sitting, standing, walking, moving (such as tai chi) and even dancing.

So why would you want to meditate? I can only give you my opinion as someone who has meditated in the past and who is trying to get back to it as a daily practice.

Most research has been done on the Transcendental Meditation technique with hundreds of studies published. So there are some proven health benefits of meditation: reduced cortisol (the stress hormone), lowered anxiety and depression, reduced insomnia, lower blood pressure and risk of stroke and heart attack, and increased learning ability and memory.

I think the best reason to meditate, in my opinion, is to get to know and be at peace with yourself. The Tibetan word for meditation is “gom” which means “to become familiar with one’s self”. I think that’s important because whatever we can become familiar with, we can become comfortable with.

We are uncomfortable with ourselves when we have thoughts and feelings that create stress, tension and unhappiness. Sometimes it seems that we are at war with ourselves as we deal with conflicting thoughts and feelings about who we are, what we do and the circumstances of our lives.

The reason our thoughts and feelings can create negativity within us is because we identify with our thoughts and feelings. We believe our thoughts and feelings and we become attached to them.

What meditation allows us to do is to observe our inner process and see it for what is is: our inner process, and not who we are. 

If you have ever had the experience of telling yourself “I don’t need to let that (person or circumstance) bother me any more” then you know what it feels like to detach from conditioned reactions.

Is meditation right for you? It is if

  • you desire more peace of mind
  • you desire more control over what you think
  • you desire a greater sense of self awareness
  • you desire a deeper sense of being present to the experience of your life.

I am not an expert in meditation nor am I a meditation teacher . But I would like to give you a very simple technique that can introduce you to the benefits of meditation. Meditation is a practice, and becomes more powerful if done daily.

  • Start with 5 minutes at a time when you can be still and quiet. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting in on your thighs or lap. Do this at a time of day when you don’t feel rushed and won’t be disturbed.
  • Focus and become aware of your body:  how it feels, what the energy of your body is like, what’s going on inside your body. Just notice.
  • Take a few deep, slow breaths and close your eyes.
  • Now let your breathing happen by itself and just watch it. Put your attention on your breathing.
  • Thoughts will come up. Your mind will drift. You may have feelings.  That’s ok. Notice whatever comes up, let it go and go back to your breathing.
  • See if you can be aware of the constant parade of thoughts, images and feeling that flow through your mind. You will find yourself getting carried away by your thoughts. Just keep bringing your attention back to your breathing. Some people find it helpful to count breaths to 10 and then start again.
  • Don’t get attached to doing it right. The key is not to stop your thoughts or prevent the mind from doing what it does. You just want to observe.
  • Do this daily. Try to up it to ten or twenty minutes.

There is much information available about meditation including classes, books and online information. My friend Julia Hilton has an excellent book Basics of Meditation: The First Steps to Changing Your Mind and Your World.

To be able to sit quietly and comfortably with yourself and get familiar with your own mind is an invaluable gift that can be life changing. Consider giving it to yourself.

Ted

Test Anxiety: How to Deal With It.

test anxiety

At the end of July all over the country, thousands of people will take the bar exam and fail due to test anxiety.

The failure rate in California in 2004 was 56 percent. Although some will fail because they are not worried enough, many will fail because they are worried to the point of test anxiety.

Test anxiety can show up as early as first and second grades as well as in high school. A 2006 U.S. Department of Education-funded study conducted by the Institute of HeartMath and Claremont Graduate University with 980 10th-grade students found that 61% of all students reported being affected by test anxiety.

What is test anxiety?

It is a psychological condition where the test taker feels severe distress before, during and after the test; one can get so nervous and anxious about doing well (or just passing), that performance on a test is negatively affected. If you know how a college final can produce this type of anxiety, then imagine having test anxiety while taking the bar exam, or an exam for licensure, where the stakes are high and there has been a significant investment in both money and time.

It’s normal to have some type of nervousness about taking a test and in fact, this nervousness can be helpful by getting us into a state where we are pumped up to do well. When this nervousness escalates into test anxiety, however, it can not only interfere with recall of information but may create a reaction so intense that it some people give up taking the exam entirely, or continue to put it off until “someday”.

 Test anxiety is a form of performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety is where someone is extremely nervous about having to produce a result in a limited time period or in front of people who are judging them. Test anxiety, stage fright, fear of public speaking and “choking” in sports performance fall into this category.

Symptoms of performance anxiety are similar to most other forms of anxiety reactions: rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, shakiness, confusion, or other physical aches or pains such as nausea or a stomach ache.

In my work as a hypnotherapist with people who are challenged by test anxiety, I notice that many of these people share similar characteristics, such as being prone to high stress, having perfectionist tendencies, or worrying a lot. Most instances of test anxiety can be dealt with in just a few hypnotherapy sessions, but here are some suggestions you can put to use right away.

Tips for dealing with text anxiety

Diet can affect your ability to think and recall information. If you are skipping meals or eating meals or snacks high in carbs while studying for an exam, then you may be experiencing episodes of low blood sugar (blood glucose). Since the organ that uses the most glucose is the brain, a balanced diet can be helpful in creating optimal brain power. Have healthy snacks while you study.

Sleep seems to go by the wayside when students are preparing for exams. Plan your study time for when you feel the most alert, which for most people is not usually late at night. But if that works for you, then make sure you’re getting the amount of sleep that’s right for you. It’s probably more than you think. It makes sense to be well rested in the days leading up to a major exam, yes?

Lack of preparation can cause test anxiety. Last minute cramming can leave you feeling like you are not ready, creating anxiety. Manage your time by organizing your schedule to give yourself the best conditions for learning. Decide ahead of time when, and for how long you will study. I suggest studying in periods of 50 minutes to one hour, with 10 to 15 minute breaks in between.

Effective Preparation. Many people will only prepare for an exam by cramming the information into their heads. This is only half the equation; taking the test will involve recalling the information. Prepare for the exam by taking as many practice tests as you can as soon as you can. This will also clue you in as to what areas require more study.

Watch your self talk. Self talk is your internal language or thoughts. Avoid scaring yourself with inner conversations like “I know I’m going to just blank out right in the middle of the test!” or “I just suck at taking tests!” Give yourself encouragement and support. Use positive affirmations in the days and weeks leading up to the exam. (Click here to read more about affirmations.)

Mental visualization can be one of the most effective techniques you can use to mentally “rehearse” taking the test while feeling calm, relaxed and comfortable. See yourself walking out of the testing location feeling good about your performance. Imagine receiving the information that you have passed. Setting a goal of passing with a particular score increases the chances that you will.

Extreme self care might be getting massages in the days or weeks before the exam to release excess tension and stress. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam, and don’t even thing about showing up without eating a good meal with protein. Daily walking or any type of exercise can also be a great stress reliever. Remember, anxiety comes from prolonged stress and tension. Find ways to release it.

For the most part, test anxiety is a learned response. With practice, you can unlearn test anxiety and learn a different reaction. Have faith in your brain, and cultivate a strong and abiding belief that you can and will pass!

Ted

Ten Radical Steps for Freeing Yourself from Insane Stress

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Do you ever get the feeling like you are being carried along by circumstance, expectations and habit over the stress cliff and into the overwhelm pit?  Have you recently looked around you with the sneaking suspicion that insanity rules the day? Well, desperate times require desperate measures. Here’s 10 radical steps to help you avoid going over the edge even though it seems that everyone around you is. Read more

Self Hypnosis for Fear and Anxiety

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Did you know that the most powerful skill you will ever learn is the ability to control your own thoughts?

What you think becomes your life. If you think worrisome, fearful thoughts, you will be worried and fearful. Think about anxious things, and you will have anxiety.

Do you feel like you are controlled by thoughts of anxiety, worry and fear?

If so, you can begin to take back control using  self hypnosis!

My Self Hypnosis Class is being offered again, this time to help you deal with fear and anxiety. 

It starts October 10th, Saturday  and continues on October 17th and 31st. (The class will skip the week of Oct. 24th)  The class starts at 9 am to 10:30 am. Click here to register!

Learn to use self hypnosis to release anxiety about things that are fearful to you such as 

  • Driving
  • Flying
  • Public speaking
  • Taking test and exams
  • Social anxiety
  • Phobias

…and gain confidence in all these areas!

In this class, you will learn:

  • What hypnosis is and isn’t
  • How to do a hypnotic induction on yourself
  • Crafting suggestions to put into your subconscious mind
  • How to put it all together to reprogram your subconscious mind for calm, comfort, ease and confidence in just a few minutes a day

You’ll receive my Guide to Self Hypnosis and my Self Hypnosis Conditioning CD, which also includes my studio produced “Peaceful Place” relaxation track as an added bonus. In addition, you’ll get handouts at each class containing the material presented. Click here to register and learn to take control of your mind!

I’ve been offering this class since 2010. Here are some comments from the course evaluations I’ve received from previous classes:

  • “Has really motivated me  to improve from day one. Very well organized.”
  • “The whole class was wonderful!”
  • “…so much motivational talk -that was great!
  • “The class is perfect! Ted is a great teacher.”

If you have ongoing fear and anxiety, you are keeping it in place through your own self hypnosis, based on what you think, say and do.  

The good news is, you can take control of your own thoughts, feeling and reactions. If you have a habit of fearful, worrisome thinking, then you know this can hold you back from doing the things you need and want to do.
Why not use the incredible power of your own mind to change? Click here to register so you can get started!

A subconscious mind is a terrible thing to waste! Put it to work for you.  Click here to register for Self Hypnosis for Fear and Anxiety.

Hope to see you there!

Ted

Self Hypnosis and the Stars

Celebrities have used hypnosis or self hypnosis for relaxation, career success and to quit smoking. Why not learn this valuable tool for yourself?

You can! Register for the Self Hypnosis for Success Class being offered again at Pasadena City College starting  Saturday, January 24th, and continuing for the next two Saturdays: January 31st and February 7th  from 9 am to 10:30 am. Click here to register!

You can use this valuable tool to:

  • Overcome bad habits such as procrastination
  • Gain confidence
  • Increase motivation
  • Release limiting beliefs
  • Achieve business success
  • Release fear and anxiety
  • And much more!

Reserve your spot by clicking here.

In this class, you will learn:

  • What hypnosis is and isn’t
  • How to do a hypnotic induction on yourself
  • Crafting suggestions to put into your subconscious mind
  • How to put it all together to reprogram your subconscious mind for success in just a few minutes a day
  • Little known, yet powerful tips and techniques for keeping your mind sharp, powerful and positive! (Most of this valuable information I only share with clients paying me $137 a session.)

You’ll receive my Guide to Self Hypnosis and my Self Hypnosis Conditioning CD, which also includes my studio produced “Peaceful Place” relaxation track as an added bonus. In addition, you’ll get handouts at each class containing the material presented. Click here to register.

Here are some comments from the course evaluations I’ve received from previous classes:

  • “Has really motivated me  to improve from day one. Very well organized.”
  • “The whole class was wonderful!”
  • “…so much motivational talk -that was great!
  • “The class is perfect!”

Why do the rich and famous become rich and famous? Well, there are many reasons, but first and foremost, they knew what they wanted, they believed they could get it and they took ACTION. This is called a “success mindset” and you can have it too by using the powerful tool of self hypnosis.

A subconscious mind is a terrible thing to waste! Put it to work for you.  Click here to register for Self Hypnosis for Success.

How to Be Peaceful

greenpeace

Peace. In the media you will hear that word almost daily. Peace talks. Peace in the Middle East. The peace process. Peace activists. Nobel Peace Prize. Peace of mind. Peace and quiet.

Most people want and strive for peace. Yet, peace seems in  short supply these days. Why is peace so rare in our lives, as well as in the world at large? Sometimes it appears that long lasting peace is almost impossible. Granted, there exists an abundance of beauty and harmony, and even though it may not seem like it, the vast majority of the world is not at war (at least not in political wars.) In spite of that, we must acknowledge that as a race, we have a long and bloody history of violence, murder, war, and genocide. I think we can agree that we can do better. Read more

Do You Suffer from Driving Anxiety?

driving-anxiety

Driving anxiety is the most common form of anxiety that I treat in my hypnotherapy practice.  This can range in severity from a hesitation to drive, where anxiety is always present, all the way up to a total refusal to drive at all, in which case it becomes driving phobia. A phobia is a fear that is paralyzing but irrational. Driving phobia is one of the most common phobias.

Driving phobia is a form of agoraphobia, literally defined as is the fear of open spaces. But it’s not the fear of open spaces that scares people, it fear of loss of control. People with a driving phobia or driving anxiety fear being trapped in a traffic jam and unable to escape if they have a panic attack. They also fear passing out, losing control of the vehicle, throwing up or getting into an accident. For many people, driving next to big trucks, merging onto the freeway or driving in the fast lane can be very nerve racking.

Symptoms of driving anxiety

Symptoms of driving anxiety are similar to most other forms of anxiety: heart palpitations, perspiring and sweaty palms, disorientation, confusion, dizziness, dry mouth and shortness of breath. This is the classic “fight or flight response”. Some times people feel that they are going to die or go crazy. This can be really scary and people will simply not drive to avoid these kind of intense feelings. It’s good to remember that  these are just feelings and even the most severe panic attacks don’t cause any long term ill effects.

Still,  driving anxiety can seriously impact a person’s  ability to function on a daily basis if they need to drive to work or drive for a living, especially here in So Cal where driving is necessary to get anywhere fast.

How does driving anxiety start?

Driving anxiety can start in many ways. Usually a person has experienced a car accident or “close call” and that memory is still causing the subconscious mind to be protective. Sometimes, this kind of anxiety can show up out of the blue.  If you are a person that is prone to anxiety or fear, then driving may be one place where this shows up.

In addition,having episodes of low blood sugar can create anxiety. If this happens while driving, then you might start associating driving with anxiety. Low blood sugar can be caused from not eating or after eating a meal high in simple carbs or sugar. This is especially true for those that have family histories of diabetes or hypoglycemia.

Driving anxiety can turn into a phobia though avoidance. In other words, of you have some fear of driving and you decide to stop altogether, it becomes a full blown phobia and the more you avoid it, the harder it is to get back in the saddle, so to speak.

The good news is, fear of driving is a learned behavior. If you have ever felt comfortable driving, then that is something you learned. If you are uncomfortable now, you can relearn how to be comfortable again. Here are some tips to help you get back on the road feeling safe and comfortable and confident. If you are currently not driving due to driving anxiety, I highly suggest you get help by contacting me  or another professional so I can help you.

Tips to help with driving anxiety.

  • The basics: avoid blood sugar imbalances. Avoid driving on an empty stomach.Pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods, especially those high in sugar or simple carbs (bread, pastries, soft drinks). Drinking alcohol the night before can also trigger blood sugar imbalances. Also, if you are driving while sleep deprived, you are asking for trouble. Start by taking care of yourself.
  • Caffeine: is a known trigger for anxiety. Some of my clients have felt relief from driving anxiety just by cutting back on caffeinated beverages.
  • Consider car pooling. If you are engaged in conversation you are less liable to think anxious thoughts. You also have to drive half as much. Think this one over carefully, as some people are more distracted while conversing while driving.
  • Manage your stress. A common cause for anxiety is extended periods of overwhelming stress. Do what you can to lower your stress level: exercise, take more breaks, meditation, yoga, etc.
  • Affirmations.Hand write, in script, some positive affirmation about your ability to drive calm, comfortable and relaxed. For example “I’m calm, comfortable and relaxed while driving and enjoying listening to music (the radio, audio books, etc.)” Read them right before you go to bed and right after you wake up. Say them out loud and imagine yourself driving while feeling calm and relaxed. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple exercise.
  • What really stops most people is the anticipatory anxiety:“Oh my God, I need to drive tomorrow out to the west side. I just know this is going to cause me a lot of anxiety. I’m already feeling it!” Instead, try saying something like”If I feel anxious I know I can handle it.”
  • Desensitization. This is a therapeutic technique that can help you become more comfortable with what is fearful. It involves taking small steps to get comfortable with situations that trigger anxiety. For example, if you can’t even drive your car, then start by sitting in your car in the driveway or on the street with the engine on but not moving. Notice whatever anxiety comes up and just be with it. Do that for longer periods of time until you can sit in the car, engine running, without anxiety. When you reach that point, and it may take a few hours or a few days, then drive around the block. If you feel anxiety, just pull over until it goes away, then continue driving. For freeway driving, you might try getting on one on ramp, staying in the slow lane, and then getting of on the next off ramp.

The most important thing to realize is that even though driving anxiety does not feel good, it will not kill you. It is your reaction to the feeling of anxiety that determines how you manage it. Instead of fighting anxiety, just allow it to be. Notice it, and see if you can observe it with detachment. Take deep breaths and try to remain in the present moment. Realize you have a tendency to create anxiety with your thoughts so try focusing on something else, like the environment, music, or the cars in front of you.

If you are still driving even though you experience anxiety, these tips can be helpful and good luck. However, if your level of anxiety is very high, you will probably need some help. You don’t need to live with the anxiety; give me a call.

Ted A. Moreno

Click Here For a Free Guide to Relieve Anxiety