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Anxious Thoughts are Sticky: Use Mindfulness to Remove Them

Anxious thoughts stick to us and are hard to shake off. Learn how mindfulness reduces anxious thoughts and increases wellbeing and inner peace.

Anxious thoughts are annoying at best and quite damaging to our mental health and wellbeing at worst. Part of the problem with these worries, fears, and what-ifs is the fact that once they form, they stick. It’s as if they’re covered in oozing tree sap so when they pop into your mind, they don’t leave. When we try to shake them of, they tighten their hold. When we try to argue them away, they grow because we’re giving them our full attention. We are focusing on all of our anxieties, and they stick together, growing larger and larger and threatening to consume us. Plain and simple, anxious thoughts are sticky so they don’t go away. It can seem as though we’ll never be able to loosen them. That is a common thought/feeling borne out of the frustrations of anxiety. It’s also false. You can remove your sticky thoughts. Mindfulness is a powerfully effective way to do it. 

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Mindfulness Reduces Anxiety with a Gentle Shift

Mindfulness is effective in reducing anxiety and in creating a calm, peaceful quality life worth living. Learn more here.
Several years ago, when my anxiety was stuck in its intense phase, I decided to give mindfulness, the act and state of being of living fully in the present moment rather than stuck inside our mind, another try. Yes, another try. In my quest for the holy grail, that one thing that would miraculously poof away all of my social anxiety and generalized anxiety, I had tried many things many times. Mindfulness as a technique for soothing so many things, including anxiety, is something that was and continues to be hailed as effective in decreasing anxiety. 

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A Way to Be: Announcing The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety

What is mindfulness, and what can it do for you? Find out what practicing mindfulness can do for you, your anxiety, and your quality life.
Mindfulness receives quite a bit of attention. Rightly so, for it is a vital part of the ongoing journey of a life of mental health and wellbeing.

I’ve practiced mindfulness for over a decade. I was first introduced to the concept when I was hospitalized in a behavioral health center following a traumatic brain injury. Since then, it’s become a key element in my mental health and wellbeing, and it’s allowed me to both reduce anxiety and live well in spite of any residual anxiety or anxiety flares.

Mindfulness is so much more than trying to find time in our busy schedules to sit and meditate. In fact, while sitting meditation and mindfulness can go hand and hand, mindfulness doesn’t have to look like that at all. 

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Want to Stop Avoiding? What Would That Mean to You?

Avoidance is a common human behavior that has good intentions but can spiral out of control until, before we realize it, we’re trapped, boxed in by anxiety and blocked from fully living (see What is Avoidance Doing to You?) Avoidance is fear- and anxiety-based. Whether we avoid one situation, such as making or taking phone calls, or almost every situation, such as anything that takes us out of the house, we are letting anxiety limit our lives.

Is “letting” the right word? Do we actively permit anxiety to cause avoidance? Of course we don’t actively invite anxiety and avoidance into our lives. The vast majority of people who are plagued by avoidance, including avoidance in its most extreme form—avoidant personality disorder—do not want to avoid and are not actively choosing it. The problem is this: avoidance, once started, quickly takes over thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It looks like this:

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What is Avoidance Doing to You?

Fear and anxiety can cause us to avoid people, places, and things. What is this avoidance doing to our wellbeing? Find out here.
Avoidance is a behavior that is hardwired into us. It’s an instinctive reaction (think: fight-or-flight response, specifically the “flight” part) that in theory keeps us safe from danger. And sometimes avoidance, or flight, does just that. When we avoid walking across dark parking lots alone at night (whether we’re male or female, young or old), we keep ourselves out of risk of significant danger. What happens, though, when our brain tells us there is danger lurking here or there, and we avoid good things because of it? 

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How to Reduce Stress When Reducing Stress Causes Anxiety

Reducing stress is healthy, but not when reducing stress causes anxiety. Here's how you can fear stress relief yet do it anyway to enhance your wellbeing.

It’s perhaps surprising, but true: the idea of reducing stress can actually cause anxiety rather than alleviate it. We do have legitimate reasons for clinging to stress despite wanting relief from it. Sometimes the mere idea of relaxing causes anxiety because we’re afraid that our performance will decline or that seeking stress relief will cause us to be judged as weak. Stress can come to be a badge of honor, too. High degrees of stress can show the world, and ourselves, how much we are achieving or how much we care about loved ones, and more. 

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