Be Here Now – Mindfulness for Holistic Anxiety Treatment

This basic mindfulness technique can help when you are overwhelmed with the anxiety of having too many things to do.

As you walk through your day, give your brain a break from the anxiety by putting all your energy into the one thing you are doing now. Tell yourself “Be Here Now.”

Stop thinking about what’s next or what’s later or what’s on the To Do List. Start focusing more on the one thing you are doing right now. Keep your mind and your body in the present moment together. Be Here Now.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Pain

Chronic pain is a huge problem, experienced by approximately 30% of the population. It is defined as pain that does not go away as expected. Whereas acute pain is a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury, chronic pain is different and may persist for months or longer.

Chronic pain can cause feelings of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness, and experiences of pain such as shooting, burning, or aching.

Chronic pain commonly leads to other problems, such as:

          • anxiety, fears and catastrophizing
          • fatigue, which can cause a loss of motivation
          • sleeping problems, followed by withdrawal from activities due to an increased need to rest
          • grief and loss due to new limitations caused by the pain
          • irritability
          • depression (with bad or low mood)
          • loneliness and isolation

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for chronic pain is now recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). The Mayo Clinic says that every progressive pain treatment should include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for chronic pain is a form of counseling that teaches people how to change negative thoughts and behaviors, change their awareness of pain, and develop better coping skills.

The perception of pain is in your brain so working with a neuroscience-based therapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can directly reduce physical pain by addressing thoughts and behaviors that fuel it.

According to WebMD.com, among the various methods of pain control,
CBT is often one of the most effective:

“In control group studies, CBT is almost always at least as good as, or better than, other treatments…Plus, CBT has far fewer risks and side effects than medications or surgery.”

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps provide pain relief in several ways:

          1. CBT changes the way you view your pain, including thoughts,
emotions, and behaviors related to pain.

          2. CBT increases your control over your mental and emotional states, which have a direct effect on pain levels

          3. CBT improves coping strategies, which gives you a greater sense of control, and increased time periods of pain relief.

          4. CBT can also change the chemical response in the brain that makes pain worse. Pain causes anxiety, and anxiety creates a chemical reaction in the brain which is inflammatory. Anxiety treatment with CBT reduces anxiety

          5. CBT reduces the sense of helplessness that often comes with chronic pain, while increasing problem-solving and action-taking. I always give “homework” to help clients take action, make changes, and make the most of the work we do together in our sessions.

What Will I Learn with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will be customized for you! Everyone’s situation is unique but here is an idea of the sorts of things that might be included:

          • Attention: Learn how to shift your focus or distract from pain. Research shows when attention is distracted from pain then the pain is actually experienced as less intense.

          • Anxiety: Learn how to manage anxiety about the pain itself, and about other things in your life. Reduce catastrophizing and fight or flight responses in your brain. Research shows that anxiety treatment that resolves the root cause of anxiety actually changes brain chemistry and reduces pain.

          • Control: Learn that there are things about the pain that are actually in your control. Research shows pain intensity is reduced when pain is perceived to be controllable.

          • Interpretation: Learn more accurate ways to monitor and interpret pain sensations. Research shows that the more you try to monitor pain, the more pain you experience.

          • Negative feelings toward pain: Learn how to better manage emotions. Research shows that anger, sadness, and fear become a loop: pain creates those emotions but those emotions also increase pain

          • Negative thoughts: Learn how to change automatic negative thoughts and change cognitive distortions common with chronic pain. Research shows that changing these kinds of thoughts can provide as much (or more!) pain relief as medication.

          • Behaviors: Learn which behaviors increase and decrease pain. Research shows coping behaviors have a big impact on pain intensity and functional abilities.

          • Body Relaxation and Calming: Build a custom toolbox of techniques such as mindfulness, goal setting, breathwork, muscle relaxation, sleep improvement, imagery, meditation, neurofeedback and more. Research shows the effectiveness of such tools in calming the nervous system and interrupting pain signals in the brain.

I’d be honored to help you on your healing journey. Give me a call and let’s see how I can help.

My Favorite Products for Anxiety and Happiness

This is the first time ever I am revealing my own personal Favorite products that I use and recommend for:

1. managing anxiety
2. keeping my head on straight (i.e. being happy, peaceful and joyful!)

I see these products as adjuncts to having a toolbox of “what can I do” strategies which is the foundation of effective anxiety management. My blog is full of tools that can help you create your foundation.

On top of that foundation, here are a few of my current favorite products (not in any particular order):

Peace and Calming essential oil

I’m a big fan of therapeutic essential oils. This one by Young Living is particularly relaxing, while uplifting my mood at the same time. I diffuse it for aromatherapy, or blend with a carrier oil to apply topically.

“Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself”
By Dr. Kristin Neff

Being kinder to yourself can definitely decrease anxiety (which so often comes with harsh, negative self-talk that only makes matters worse).

I was blessed to attend training in Mindful Self-Compassion personally with Kristin. I predict Self-Compassion will be the new Mindfulness – you read it here first folks 🙂

BONUS Hot off the press: “The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive.” Loaded with interactive tools and techniques. I just ordered it!

Guided Mindful Belly Breathing Meditation

It seems a little weird to list my own product as a favorite, but this Mindful Belly Breathing Meditation really is the most effective tool I know for anxiety, and I really do use the technique myself.

I get so much feedback confirming it is so much easier to do this kind of meditation and breathwork with my guided audio meditation.

It has helped many create a daily meditation practice, plus lots of folks have put it on their phone for on-the-go use in anxiety-provoking situations such as travel.

Epsom Salt

Great for calming the anxious nervous system and relaxing physical tension that often come along with anxiety. I love it in my Ultrabath

Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations Podcast/App

Download this free app to feed your spirit with a fantastic selection of short interviews with thought-leaders, best-selling authors, and spiritual luminaries, as well as health and wellness experts.

Light Box 

Research shows the effectiveness of light therapy to help improve mood, reduce negative thinking and irritability, and increase energy levels. I use my light box all year round, but especially in winter.

I have 2 different lights: Philips goLITE BLU and Northern Light Technology Travelite.

*Be sure to read the instructions and warnings for the light box you choose. Light therapy is not recommended for those with mania or bipolar disorder, or those with various eye conditions

Read my full article about light therapy HERE

Gelsemium Sempervirens

Homeopathy is a natural system of plant-based supplements. Several different brands are available at many health food stores. Homeopathic remedies are gentle, inexpensive, small pellets dissolved under the tongue.

Gelsemium is commonly used for calming anxiety, and many of my clients get relief from it.

This product and recommendations for use can be found at most health food stores.

Power Thought Cards
By Louise Hay

I’m a huge Louise Hay fan! Each of these 64 vibrant cards contains a powerful affirmation on one side and a visualization on the other to enlighten, inspire, help you find inner strength and love yourself.

 

10 More Great Ways to Love Yourself

Every February I write about how to love yourself. Being your own Valentine is the best gift you can give yourself.

Loving yourself is the gift that keeps on giving: when you love yourself more you can share more of that love with others in your life.

Here are some concrete ways to get started…

Gifts that Say I Love You to Yourself

1. 5 minutes of doing nothing. Many people actually find this one difficult. Sit down in silence with no devices or distractions. Close your eyes and give yourself permission to BE with no doing.

2. Say goodbye to the Joneses. Stop comparing yourself to others. Don’t dwell on others who put on their Facebook faces. Everyone is unique and there is no good that comes from comparing. You are valuable just the way you are!

3. Thank yourself. Real gratitude is seeing the gifts that are inside of you. Before bed each night, thank yourself for one really wonderful thing about yourself.

4. Get comfortable saying No. Know yourself and know your boundaries. Listen to your inner wisdom and give yourself permission to say no sometimes. If you learn to stop automatically saying yes to things that others want or expect from you, you will have more time to say yes to what YOU want. Don’t say yes when your inner wisdom says no.

5. Speak to yourself with kindness. Give yourself the respect you would give to a friend. Stop the internal critical dialogue, name calling and criticism. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Just like everyone else, you’re doing the best you can in any given the situation.

6. Stop stuffing your feelings. Your feelings matter! Emotions are part of being a human being. You have a right to all of your feelings, even the ones that other people may not like, and even the ones that can feel uncomfortable like anger and sadness. Honoring all of your feelings is part of honoring and loving yourself. Allow yourself to have ALL your feelings and express them in a healthy, respectful way.

7. Time alone. Both introverts and extroverts benefit from a little solitude, with no one to attend to but your incredible self. Do whatever you want with your time – it’s all yours!

8. Don’t Do. Not “doing” can be an important gift to yourself. Don’t do that one extra thing before bedtime, don’t stay up late on Facebook, don’t have that third glass of wine, don’t rush out of the house at the last minute frantic about being late, don’t spend 3 hours of your time to try to save a few dollars. Find something on your to-do list that you really don’t need to do.

9. Allow yourself to receive. Value yourself enough to say yes to offers of help, say yes to support, say yes to a friend who wants to buy you lunch. Receive gifts graciously. You deserve it!

10. Let imperfect be good enough. You are probably your own worst critic. We are all imperfect. We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. Give yourself a break and allow yourself to be like the rest of us human beings: perfectly imperfect.

Need more ideas?

Here’s 10 More Gifts that Say I Love You to Yourself 

And even More Ways to Love Yourself

How To Do Mindfulness

Have you been hearing a lot about Mindfulness lately?

It’s gaining in popularity as a way to reduce stress and anxiety and increase happiness.

Wellness Counseling with Di PhilippiMindfulness is a way of being. It involves focus and attention on only what is happening in the here and now. It’s about attentive awareness of the present moment without judgement.

You’d be surprised how many moments of your day go by WITHOUT your conscious attention to the here and now.

Ever had a time when you were driving and suddenly realized you missed or almost missed a turn? Or that you were further along the road than you realized because you were driving on auto-pilot? At times like that, the body and the mind are doing two different things. Mindless.

I like to think of Mindfulness as your Mind and Body in same place at same time doing the same thing. Your body can only be in the here and now; but your mind can be all over the place.

How to do it?

People often ask me how to “do Mindfulness”… is it meditation or what?

While there are mindfulness meditations you can do, it is a way of being so you do not need to meditate to be mindful. You can start with mindful awareness of your sensory experiences. You can use your senses of: Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, Touch.

Here are just a few strategies for beginners to get an experience of mindfulness:

Eat a Raisin

Here is one simple way to experience and practice mindfulness using your mouth and your sense of taste:

Eat one raisin…mindfully. Take 4 minutes to pick up, look at, eat, taste and mindfully experience that raisin. Try to chew it at least 250 times! It is possible!

Notice everything you can about that raisin-eating experience… taste, texture, saliva production, how your tongue and teeth move, how you swallow, etc.

Mindful Listening

1. Sit still and bring your attention to what you can hear right now. You’ll probably notice that one noise jumps out at you – perhaps the loudest or most annoying.

2. Now, listen hard for what else you can hear at the same time. Closing your eyes can help. Do your best to divide your attention equally between every noise that you can hear. This will probably be challenging at first.

3. Notice when one particular sound has taken up your full attention, or when your mind simply wanders. Bring your attention back to all the noises and focus again on dividing your attention among all of them equally.

Do this for a few minutes and then notice how you feel compared to when you started.

Sitting Mindfulness Meditation

Science shows mindfulness and meditation help reduce anxiety. There are many, many techniques. This one is from Dr. Mark Hyman.

Instructions:

Meditating - Di Philippi, Holistic Anxiety Therapist, Wellness Counseling Milwaukee

Be aware of your posture!

Sit in a comfortable position. Try to sit in the same place each day. Avoid positions that you might fall asleep in.

a. The back is long and supports itself.

b. Shoulders are relaxed downward, the neck is long, and the chin is pointing neither up nor down.

c. The face is relaxed.

Begin to breathe (preferably through the nostrils). Feel the belly rise, the ribs expand, and the slight movement in the collarbones and shoulders as the breath moves upward. Feel the exhalation.

Focus on one aspect of the breath.

a. The movement of air in and out of the nostrils.

b. Or the lifting and falling of the belly.

Watch that one aspect of the breath.

a. When the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath and the aspect you have chosen to watch.

b. Do this as many times as you need to.

c. There is no such thing as a good or bad meditation. (Good and bad are judgments, events in the mind – just note them and go back to the breathing.)

Start with 5–10 minutes and then increase the time until you can sit for 30 minutes.

You’ll Never Guess Why I Got The Flu

In the midst of one of the worst flu seasons in Milwaukee ever on record, I got the dreaded flu. Yet all my friends we’re so surprised because “you’re my healthiest friend.”

So, why did I get the flu?

Ask a scientist or doctor and you’ll hear about the human immune system and airborne contagions. As if it is all physical… I generally have a very strong immune system, and I actively use natural, holistic supplements and other things to keep it that way.

So, why did I get the flu? Is it all physical? I think not.

The Back Story

I started out 2018 by setting new intentions and goals, as I do each New Year. Usually this is in the form of theme words. One of my theme words this year is CONNECTED. For me, CONNECTED means CONNECTED to the Universe, to Spirit, to those in my life, and to myself.

[I use the words Universe and Spirit here to represent a spiritual connection. Please translate to whatever words may work for you, such as God, Buddha, Goddess, Higher Power, The Divine, or whatever fits for you.]

But this year, for the first time ever, I also got a motto for my new year. When I say that I got it, I mean that I didn’t set out to create a motto. The idea and the words just came to me. (Hmmmm… divine inspiration.)

My motto for 2018: Less is More.

Ever since that motto came to me, I have been pondering what it really means. I started wondering how Less is More might be related to my intention to be CONNECTED.

So, why did I get the flu?

Essential vs. Optional

I can’t remember the last time I was this sick. A couple of days were like a blur to me… fever, aches, fatigue, nausea, headache migraine, coughing, sleeping, resting.

The decision to cancel everything (do less!) on my schedule for the rest of the week came out of sheer necessity. I was non-functional. Being that sick made it easier to see what is essential and to let go of the rest.

After a visit to my most amazing chiropractor, Dr. Angie English, the fever finally broke!

Then I became dangerous! As I was slowly feeling better physically, I almost immediately started thinking “If I have to be stuck home sick, maybe I could at least get some things done.”

So I started rescheduling appointments, and picking up things around the house that I had strewn all over. Dr. Angie warned me to take it easy and continue resting. Yes, good idea but certainly I can do that later after I finish doing a few more things, right? Dangerous!

Doing more felt better. More is more, right? That was my instinct.

So, why did I get the flu?

The Gift of the Flu

I think the Universe loves me so much (and you too!) that it responded to my intention for Less is More. The flu was so bad that all doing and most thinking came to a complete halt. It forced me to make the decisions necessary to do less and be more in the moment, tuned in to myself…Connected!

I was just becoming aware of these lessons from the Universe when I decided to take an Epsom salt bath with frankincense and lavender essential oils. The one I took the day before really helped, so this time I added more frankincense. More is more, right?

Shortly after I got in the tub, my skin started tingling and itching. Too much frankincense. Oops, I guess less is more.

Seeing deeper than a negative situation

Thank you Universe for loving me so much to help me see past a seemingly negative situation and learn so many lessons about Less is More:

Less doing and busy-ness
• Less sense of urgency
• Less focus on being productive; more focus on being
• Being in the present moment (mindfulness)
• Accepting what is (leading to the next item….)
• Peace even in the midst of illness
• Honoring my limitations
• Practicing asking for help
• Prioritizing myself first

 

What could you learn if you could see beyond a seemingly negative situation and listen more deeply?

I’m listening Universe… Next request… May I come to listen more deeply and understand how Less is More without the flu, please?

P.S. The Universe loves you too!

10 MORE Great Ways to Love Yourself

Last February I wrote about Loving Yourself and it was so popular I decided to add 10 more ways to love yourself this year….

Gifts that Say I Love You to Yourself

1. Rest. My Vipassana meditation teacher from Burma says (in his Burmese accent): “Take Rest, Take Rest, Take Rest.” Whether it be sleep or a 2 minute break, rest is a gift to yourself so…Take it!

2. Self-compassion. Are you harder on yourself than you are on everybody else? Stop beating yourself up. Treat yourself with the same kindness, care, and support that you would offer to another person that you care about.

3. Schedule fun. Make a list of 20 things you think are fun. Then put them into your calendar and make your fun just as important (or even more important!) as all your other appointments.

4. Make a list and check it twice. Sit down and don’t get up until you’ve listed 10 things you love about yourself. If it’s very easy, then make it 20.

5. Let learning be enough. Forgive yourself for past mistakes or errors in judgment. Hindsight truly is 20/20 so take the lessons away from past mistakes and they will help you move forward. Self-forgiveness is the antidote to guilt, self-blame and self-criticism.

6. Stand up for yourself. Know that your needs and opinions matter. Be confident in asserting yourself and letting others know what is important to you. You’re worth it!

7. Practice being truly present. Learning how to be mindful adds more pleasure and meaning to life. Plus it reduces stress and anxiety. This is a continual practice. You don’t ever have to become an expert – you just need to keep practicing. Start with the intention to “be here now”… and practice.

8. Hang out with the best. Consciously choose to spend your precious time with people who lift you up, who treat you well, respect you, and accept you just the way you are.

9. Embrace this 4-letter word. H-E-L-P. Why do we think we are supposed to do everything on our own? Who made that rule? Asking for help is a sign of wisdom, not weakness. Help is what makes the world go around, and makes us feel connected. It is a gift knowing you don’t have to do it all alone.

10. Celebrate your successes. Acknowledge yourself for all accomplishments big and small. Writing them down in a success journal helps your brain to remember them and builds confidence. Read over your list regularly and see the proof in writing of how truly capable and amazing you are.

Acupuncture for Anxiety

Chinese medicine and acupuncturists view anxiety as an imbalance in your organ system called “Shan You Si” meaning “anxiety and preoccupation.” This is believed to affect your main organs: Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver and Kidneys. Each of these organs is related to different aspects of your emotions and different energy flows within the body.

Acupuncture restores the energy and functioning of those organ systems to restore balance to your emotional state and reduce anxiety. Most people experience deep relaxation during the acupuncture treatment itself, and after a series of treatments acupuncture can contribute to lower anxiety levels.

Take Micro-Breaks

In all the busyness and doingness of your day, stress and anxiety continually build up. Your mind and body need more breaks.

Try taking micro-breaks many times a day, perhaps even many times an hour. Micro-breaks can last for just 5-60 seconds at a time. You can try many different things on your micro-breaks.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:cloud-stencil

• Stand up and stretch
• Stare out a window
• Close your eyes
• Breathe in through your nose and out forcefully through your mouth
• Step outside and look at the clouds
• Give yourself a quick hand massage
• Drink a glass of water
• Visualize the best part of your last vacation
• Imagine a peaceful nature scene – by mountain, lake, river, forest

 

Here’s what NOT to do on your micro-breaks:to-do-buster-stencil-default

• Do not multi-task
• Do not use any electronics
• Do not look at your To Do List
• Do not make a mental To Do List
• Do not eat junk food
• Do not talk to someone else

The Hugging Meditation by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

huggingfriends-stencil“You can practice hugging meditation with a friend, a child, your parents, or even a tree. To practice, first bow to each other and recognize each other’s presence. Then, enjoy three deep, conscious breaths to bring yourself fully into the present moment.

Next, open your arms and begin hugging, holding each other for three in-and out-breaths.

  • With the first breath, become aware that you are present in this very moment and feel happy.
  • With the second breath, become aware that the other person is present in this moment and feels happy as well.
  • With the third breath, become aware that you are here together, right now, on this Earth. We can feel deep gratitude and happiness for our togetherness.

Finally, release the other person and bow to each other to show your thanks.”