Secret Ways Technology Hurts Relationships

Most of you will know intuitively the types of problems that technology can cause in relationships. Your own experience has taught you this.

My experience with clients proves this also, and scientific research studies also confirm that technology has as many downsides as upsides when it comes to relationships.

Feeling Connected or Neglected?

I love visiting my daughter but we just don’t talk like we used to. I wonder why?

Smartphones and other portable devices often get in the way of face-to-face, meaningful interactions. How many times have you been sitting with someone, and then in the middle of conversation, they start using their cell phone for something?

Perhaps the email, text or phone call they just got is more important than you? Perhaps the job/career that is beckoning on the smartphone is more important than you? We have all felt this way.

And perhaps you have even fallen into the same trap yourself, and made other people feel that way when they are sitting with you. My husband called me on it the other day. It happens.

Even though we are sitting across from each other, technology enables the interruptions and attention to other priorities that prevents us from really being present. The body is present but the mind goes elsewhere, so it is difficult to feel real connection.

The iPhone Effect

Research studies show that smartphones actually change the interpersonal connection process (often referred to as the iPhone effect).

A famous 2014 study at Virginia Tech found that the mere presence of a smartphone made partners less likely to talk about their feelings.

The mere presence of a smartphone made connections less meaningful, and partners were less understanding of each other.

But here’s the kicker…

These negative consequences occurred even if the phone was not actually in use, but just sitting as an object in the background!

Does Your Partner Have Secrets?

Ever wonder what your partner is spending so much time doing on his or her phone?

The phone provides a private portal to private conversations and private activities. Passwords on phones send a message that there is something private to be kept hidden. Secrets.

Partners have always been able to keep secrets from each other, but the technology makes it so much easier, more tempting, and more prevalent. Even if no secrets are actually being kept, the phone itself and our phone habits present new worries about the possibility.

Here’s a common scenario I see with my clients:

tech-adultry-dreamstime_xs_13830684Partner #1 is texting very regularly with a “friend” of the opposite sex from the gym, or someplace where Partner #2 is not involved.

Partner #2 finds out about this and asks questions.

Partner #1 says this is an “innocent and appropriate friendship.”

But this “innocent” friendship starts to interfere in the partners’ relationship.

Partner #2 wonders about the appropriateness of the friendship.

Partner #1 starts to hide or delete text messages. Secrets.

Hiding often turns into lies. All of this leads to trust issues, and arguments.

If this is just an appropriate friendship, then why does Partner #1 continue with hiding, deleting texts, putting passwords on their phone? Because technology makes it so easy to do so.

Before the popularity of smartphones, Partner #1 would have had to make a phone call or setup a meeting with the “friend.”  Often, these steps probably would not have been taken. But the smartphone makes it so easy.

And the line between appropriate and inappropriate friendships can get very blurry.

After That?

The availability of that instant connection with someone else also makes it easier to have an emotional affair .  It can even help facilitate logistics for a sexual affair.  Obviously, technology does not cause these things, but it is being used as a tool to make these things more accessible and easier and therefore more prevalent.

Technology and the internet at your fingertips, has also created the phenomenon called sexting, and increased the accessibility and prevalence of pornography.

All of these things affect the dynamics and communication within a relationship.  Technology  has created some new problems within relationships.

This makes it more important than ever for couples to connect and communicate face-to-face, and to talk about how technology may be impacting their lives and their relationship.

10 Great Ways to Love Yourself – Be Your Own Valentine

iloveme-stencilI talk a lot about loving yourself. Often times, my clients aren’t sure what that really means.

Selfish?

Many people resist the idea of loving yourself because it feels “selfish” and people have a lot of negative connotations about the word “selfish.”

Taking good care of yourself, valuing yourself, and giving yourself the respect you deserve is not selfish. It’s more like putting your own oxygen mask on first.

Gifts that Say I Love You to Yourself

1. Date Night with The Most Important Person in Your Life. (YOU!) Put one on the calendar right now and make it just as important (or more so!) as all your other appointments. Don’t cancel on yourself.

2. Be Thankful for Everything. One of the best ways to combat negative thinking, gratitude is a gift to yourself. It’s just about guaranteed to help you feel happier.

3. Take a Bath. People don’t take the time for a bath anymore. This is a gift of time and calming for your nervous system and muscles. Try this Ultrabath.

4. Accept That Some People Won’t Like You. So what? It’s inevitable. Put an end to people-pleasing and you will have more time and energy to do what pleases you.

5. Sleep. Is this the first think you cut out when your life gets inevitably busy? Your investment in sleep means you feel better, have a more positive attitude, and have more energy to take good care of yourself and your loved ones. Sleep equals more love all around!

6. Eat One Healthy Thing Each Day. Feeding yourself well is a concrete way to tell yourself that you are worth being treating well.

7. Let Yourself Off the Hook. Forgive yourself for past mistakes, choices, for not being perfect… in other words, for being a human being like everyone else. Holding on only harms yourself, while letting go will make you lighter, happier, and more loving of yourself and others.

8. Digital Detox. Constant connection can be exhausting. The other day I forgot my phone when I left home for yoga class followed by meeting a friend at a coffee shop. After momentary withdrawal symptoms, I found it so freeing. Take a little break.

valentine-bemyown-stencil9. See Yourself as an Innocent Child. Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to an innocent child (or loved one). The self-talk in your head can be so harsh. Strive to be nicer to yourself in your head.

10. Allow Yourself Some Down Time. I like to tell myself that I can do it all – I just can’t do it all at once! You deserve a break from all the “doing.” Allow yourself the gift of some space in your schedule.

BONUS:

Look in the Mirror. This can be the hardest one of all for some people. Look in the mirror and tell yourself out loud “I love you.” Keep looking at your unique and amazing self for 1 minute without looking away.

You are incredible and perfect exactly the way you are.

Learning from a Dog about Anxiety

cosmokarenMy friend Karen Gill (Personal Chef, Owner of Down to Earth Chef) went to special dog training classes with her rescue dog, Cosmo. Karen believes Cosmo had some bad experiences before being rescued and now he has anxiety. When Cosmo gets anxious, he barks a lot at many different things and gets himself agitated.

When Cosmo barks at something he sees outside the living room window, Karen says in a very calm tone: “Not your business, Cosmo.” Through this training, Cosmo has learned to turn away and goes back to his own business.

Keeping his attention on his own business helps Cosmo reduce his anxiety and stay calm.

Where is Your Attention?

Is your focus on you, your life, your desires/wants, your choices, what makes you happy?

Or do you focus more on others and what they think, what they want, what they’re doing, what they want you to do, what they think of you?

What You Can Learn from Cosmo

Focusing on yourself (your own business) really can help reduce anxiety.

When you focus too much on other people and other people’s business, some dangerous things can happen (all of which cause anxiety):

1. You can start comparing yourself to others, feeling not good enough, feeling like you’re not keeping up with the Joneses, or feeling bad about yourself.

2. You judge others more. She “shouldn’t” be doing that. He “should” be doing that. It’s easy to get caught up in what you think other people should or shouldn’t be doing. Then you can lose focus on yourself and doing what is right for you.

3. You can get caught up in the need to be right, which results in you using your precious energy to prove another is wrong. The need to be right creates black and white thinking, which usually causes upset and increases stress and anxiety because life is actually full of shades of gray.

4. You can get easily overwhelmed focusing on other people. Who made it your responsibility to get involved with their business? Do you have people in your life who try to lure you into their problems or their drama? People who want you to solve their problems for them?

5. You can get caught up in trying to control other people, or control situations. This always increases anxiety because it’s impossible!

“Not Your Business, Di”

Let me give you a personal example. When I went to my first Vipassana 10-day silent meditation course, I had a roommate who didn’t follow all the rules. She showered or napped during our designated meditation time. She closed the door when we were instructed to leave the door open, and disregarded many other rules.

I got quite upset about this. I was quite irritated and kept thinking:

Di Philippi, Wellness Counseling Milwaukee; Busy creates overwhelm and anxiety• “She should be following these rules!”
• “She shouldn’t be doing that!”
• “Why won’t she do this the “right” way?!?!”

I was very bothered. She was not. In fact, I don’t think she was upset at all.

My focusing on her business only got ME worked up. It only harmed ME.

Finally, I realized that my only business was to do my best with my own meditation and my own following of the rules. I had to remind myself “Not your business, Di.” Only then did my stress, anxiety, and upset subside. Then I could really do my best with my own meditation.

How to Be More Like Cosmo

Be aware of your thoughts and where you putting your attention. When your focus is more on YOU than on other people, you will feel calmer and have less stress and anxiety.

Ask yourself some questions:

• What is really my business in this situation? What isn’t my business?
• Am I worrying about what other are saying, doing, or thinking?
• Right now, is my thinking or talking about other people’s business causing me more or less anxiety?
• What is one thing I can do right now to stay focused on ME?

50 Signs of Stress and Anxiety that May Surprise You

warningsign_istock_000004940205xsmallAll to often, we are unaware of how our stress is affecting us. Here are 50 signs to help you get a better understanding of how YOUR stress affects not only your health but also your life.

1. Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
2. Gritting, grinding teeth
3. Stuttering or stammering
4. Tremors, trembling of lips, hands
5. Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
6. Light headedness, faintness, dizziness
7. Ringing, buzzing or “popping sounds
8. Frequent blushing, sweating
9. Cold or sweaty hands, feet
10. Dry mouth, problems swallowing
11. Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores
12. Rashes, itching, hives, “goose bumps”
13. Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks
14. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
15. Excess belching, flatulence
16. Constipation, diarrhea
17. Difficulty breathing, sighing
18. Sudden attacks of panic
19. Chest pain, palpitations
20. Frequent urination
21. Poor sexual desire or performance
22. Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
23. Increased anger, frustration, hostility
24. Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
25. Increased or decreased appetite
26. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
27. Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
28. Trouble learning new information
29. Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
30. Difficulty in making decisions
31. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed
32. Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
33. Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
34. Little interest in appearance, punctuality
35. Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping
36. Increased frustration, irritability, edginess
37. Overreaction to petty annoyances
38. Increased number of minor accidents
39. Obsessive or compulsive behavior
40. Reduced work efficiency or productivity
41. Lies or excuses to cover up poor work
42. Rapid or mumbled speech
43. Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness
44. Problems in communication, sharing
45. Social withdrawal and isolation
46. Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
47. Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs
48. Weight gain or loss without diet
49. Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use
50. Excessive gambling or impulse buying
(Source: stresstop.com)

Learn more about stress here!

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.”

Loving and Connection Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Last month I invited you to make February the LOVE month for yourself. Did you accept the invitation? If not, you can always start now! Click here if you missed the article.

This month let’s explore how loving and connecting with others helps reduce stress and anxiety, and how it impacts your health.

Oxytocin: Why You Want It

Oxytocin is the hormone of love and bonding. It helps us to feel trust and connection. It helps us to empathize and be caring and generous with others.

Oxytocin is also extremely effective at lowering cortisol (your body’s main stress chemical) and therefore can help lower the effects of stress and anxiety. The more oxytocin, the better able you are to handle life’s stressors.

Other benefits of oxytocin:

• stimulates dopamine (the feel-good hormone) and serotonin, for elevated mood
• balances out your nervous system and builds the parasympathetic nervous system which reduces anxiety
• decreases feelings of loneliness
• increases self-esteem
• reduces depression
• reduces fear and PTSD
• improves digestion
• builds the immune system
• decreases pain and inflammation

Oxytocin quite likely plays a role in why pet owners heal more quickly from illness, why couples live longer than singles, and why support groups work for people with addictions and chronic diseases.

Connect More to Get More Oxytocin

Your amazing body naturally produces oxytocin when you feel loved and connected. Here are some ways to get that feeling:

• hugsdiwithcat
• touch
• massage
• cuddling, even with a stuffed animal
• laughter
• connecting with others
• petting your cat/dog
• showing compassion
• random acts of kindness
• helping others in need
• not only giving, but receiving and letting love in
• accepting help from someone
• relaxation practices that help you feel connected to the world/people/animals around you

When we allow ourselves to connect with others in these ways, both people benefit from a boost of oxytocin!

huggingguys-stencilHug More to Reduce Stress

We have long known that human touch is calming and triggers the body’s relaxation response. Modern scientific research about oxytocin helps explain what our ancestors knew instinctively.

Hugs are a great way to increase oxytocin and activate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress and anxiety.

Virginia Satir, a famous family therapist said: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

How many hugs a day do you give and get?

The average hug is under 10 seconds long. It doesn’t take long, so be proactive in looking for ways to increase your hugs per day, per week, per month.

Connect More = More Oxytocin = Less Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety from Facebook?

Everybody loves Facebook, right?

Then I wonder why a Google search for “want to quit using Facebook” gets 281 million search results. Compare that to “want to quit smoking” which gets a mere 30 million hits.

Facebook and social media have changed the way people interact and have relationships with one another – no doubt about it.

We all know the benefits of Facebook for keeping in touch, feeling connected to others, sharing information.

facebooklike  However, my clients also tell me about lots of stress with Facebook:

→ Feeling not good enough, compared to the Facebook Faces that others put on

→ Feeling everyone else has more fun, has no problems, has more friends, etc.

→ Relationship conflicts/misunderstandings over Facebook posts

→ Trust issues arising about a partner’s use of Facebook or selection of Friends

→ Feeling even more time pressured, because Facebook chews up a lot of time

→ Feeling uncomfortable or anxious if they’re NOT able to check Facebook throughout the day (a symptom of addiction)

→ Staying up late on Facebook instead of getting needed sleep (another symptom)

What Does the Research say?

Mixed results:  Some studies show Facebook helps people feel connected to other people and can increase a sense of well-being.

Studies also show Facebook can affect your mood – in either direction!  Researchers found that for every negative post, there was an extra 1.29 negative posts than normal in that person’s social network. Every upbeat post caused an extra 1.75 positive posts in the social network.

Holistic Anxiety therapy with Di Philippi, MA, LPC

I was surprised to find plenty of research showing thatFacebook can increase stress, increase anxiety and negatively affect a person’s sense of self…

1.  Over half of the respondents of one study felt uneasy when they were unable to access their social media, feeling a constant impulse to check for updates, increasing stress and anxiety.

2.  Additionally, two-thirds had difficulty sleeping due to anxiety and other negative emotions after they had used social media sites.

3.  The constant updating of Facebook led many respondents to frequently compare themselves to others, leading to feelings of inadequacy and increasing anxiety.

4.  Another study showed Facebook can increase social anxiety when a person is faced with actual in-person meetings.

5.  Researchers studied 82 young, frequent Facebook users and found that when the participants increased their Facebook use, their state of well-being declined. Those who increased the amount of time they spent with people face-to-face had an increased sense of well-being.

This is just a sampling of studies on negative effects of social media sites on users. On the flip side, other studies have shown Facebook to have positive effects. See this New Yorker article for more.

What is Right for You?

You are not alone if you have found Facebook to cause stress, anxiety, or take up too much time.

Are you feeling pressure from Facebook, or feeling over-connected to constant checking? You may want to check out the 99 Days of Freedom from Facebook online study on how life without Facebook impacts user happiness.  This is a study you can participate in.

I think that (as with most things in life!) finding the right balance is key. Being aware of the positive and negative effects of social media helps you make very conscious choices about what’s right for you.

Lessons Learned in Mexico about What Actually Decreases Stress and Anxiety

Di Philippi - Stress Management in MexicoA couple years ago I went on an amazing vacation in Mexico. What a blessing!  It was an R&R trip, practicing what I preach about the importance of self-care, downtime, and balance in life.  I ultimately spent a lot of time BEING rather than DOING.

But what surprised me were all the things I learned on that trip about ways to reduce stress and anxiety…ways that have little or nothing to do with going on a trip to Mexico….

Lesson #1: Learn how to relax – force yourself if necessary 

So many people tell me they just can’t relax.  Even if they can find the time, they can’t seem to really relax.  They’ve forgotten how to relax.  In our super busy world, I think we all have forgotten this to some degree. 

Imagine a couple days in Mexico with nothing to do other than take a walk or sit in a lounge chair.  Sounds like a dream come true, right?  Well, I bet you would find (like I did) that it’s not that easy.

It’s hard to unwind from the supersonic speed with which we fly through our daily lives.  There’s a lot of adrenaline flowing constantly as we are so busy DOING all the time.  The body and the mind find it hard to slow down suddenly… so you can “BE” rather than “DO.” 

I had to force myself to sit and BE. I went through a phase where I got restless, antsy, bored, and wanted to DO more.  So my mind got busy analyzing everything and everyone around me. 

And I was easily Di Philippi - Stress Management in Mexicoirritated by little things.  I thought to myself “Get a grip, Di!  You’re on a beautiful beach in Mexico.  How can you be irritable or bored?!?”  

What I learned is to force myself to just sit there, to force myself past the discomfort of the adrenaline withdrawal.  It would have been easier to use alcohol or food or nonstop sightseeing to keep distracted and busy.  

To just sit and be with yourself and your thoughts is not as easy as it sounds. 

Just do it.  Force yourself if necessary to just sit for a few minutes.  I challenge you to try it and let me know how it goes.

Lesson #2: Appreciate What You’ve Got

mexico_kittenA couple of stray cats wandered around our hotel complex.  When I encountered this kitten, I felt so sad for this poor, scrawny, underfed, homeless (and oh so cute) little creature. 

My next thought was how easy my own cat has it!  A warm and loving home, food and water provided, a soft place to sleep. The same is true for you and me! 

Whether you think you’ve got an easy life or a hard life, how can find a way to appreciate the good things you do have?  Focus on those things and stress and anxiety automatically decrease.  (Scientific research on gratitude supports this by the way.)

Lesson #3: Nurture Relationships

Relationships with those in our lives can sometimes  be stressful. But our relationships can also decrease stress if we choose the right ones and we nurture them.  All humans are wired to crave connection.  If we don’t feel connection in a relationship, it causes stress.  Feeling connected decreases stress.

It was so great to have time with my husband where we could just talk, laugh, and be with each other.  We talked about silly things, about important things going on in our life, and talked about our dreams for the future.   We both felt the connection.

I saw some research recently showing that the average married couple spends an average of 5 minutes a day in meaningful conversation.

That’s not enough to create connection.  Whether it’s with your partner or friend or family member, how can you find a way to nurture your relationship?

Lesson #4: Make Peace with Your Body

I noticed how walking around all day in a swimsuit made me acutely aware of my body and other people’s bodies.  You can’t help but notice.  I had to work hard sometimes to bring my thoughts back to loving and accepting myself exactly the way I am.  And not over-focusing on body size, type and shape.

mexico_modelOn top of that, one day a camera crew showed up with professional models doing a photo shoot directly in front of my lounge chair!   REALLY?!?  A gorgeous professional model right in front of me?!?  An added challenge.

For most of us (especially women) it can be quite a process to make peace with our body.   But loving and accepting your body is one sure way to move toward peace, contentment and less stress.

Lesson #5: Take a Break from Decisions and Responsibilities

They are a great contributor to stress and anxiety.  Of course, we all have responsibilities and we make dozens of decisions each day.  But I took a break from those for awhile.  The biggest decisions were whether to sit by the beach or the pool, and which restaurant to go to.  Not deciding what to make for dinner, going to the grocery store to get it, and then making it.  What a luxury!

How can you find little ways to give yourself a break from having to make a decision?  Or give yourself a little break from the usual responsibilities (like get a babysitter and go to Starbucks to read a book for an hour)?  Small breaks from these day-to-day pressures will make a difference!

Creative Holiday De-Stressing

How about a little more freedom and fun this holiday season?

Thanksgiving and Christmas being so close together can create an intense holiday season for many of us. Holiday Stress!

I hear from a lot of people who find holiday traditions turning into expectations, pressure, obligations, and increased stress. Family gatherings can amplify “dysfunctional” family patterns. Financial worries may grow in the face of this big spending season.

Remembering the “reason for the season” may help. Using all of the stress and anxiety-reduction tools you’ve found here and other places can help you manage through challenging holiday moments.

But I’m not going to talk about that because those things are fairly obvious.

I’m looking at more creative ways to transform holiday stress so you can experience the holidays differently…so you can think and feel differently about holiday stressors.

To feel different you have to think different.

Thoughts create feelings. Your feelings are not random, even though it seems that way sometimes. They arise from your thoughts.

So here’s some creative ways you can change your thinking about the holidays if you want to feel more fun and lightness in the season:

    • Create an “Old Year Resolution.” Give yourself a focus between now and the end of this year. Why wait until January to focus on something positive? Finish out the old year with a focus or an accomplishment other than “just making it through the holidays.” Your Old Year Resolution should be something that distracts you a bit from the holidays themselves, putting a positive focus elsewhere. Paying less attention to a holiday can help reduce the stress of it. Dwelling on it increases stress.

      Resolve to enjoy a cup of tea before bedtime each night. Focus on extra cuddling with your pet. Resolve to take short walks on your lunch-hour — or maybe resolve to simply TAKE a lunch hour instead of working through it. Decide to read an enjoyable book by the end of the year. Resolve to lose 2 pounds by the end of the year. Decide to finish something that you haven’t been able to get to (careful on this one, the project needs feel mainly like fun rather than work).

      Think about what New Year Resolutions you might find inspiring, and break that down into something you could start doing over these next 6 weeks.

    • Please Yourself. Holidays often include many things that feel like “have-to’s” and that contributes to stress. I challenge you to examine your thinking about the “have-to’s” in your holiday season.

      I was going to have my whole family over for Thanksgiving dinner because I am on vacation that whole week so I thought I really “should” since I had some extra time. As I imagined how that would be, it didn’t feel good. I discovered I didn’t really want to do it. So I’m not doing it. I decided to please myself instead of trying to please anyone else. We’re doing something entirely different. And everyone will survive! And I’ll be pleased!

      Pleasing yourself means CHOOSING what you want to do rather than doing things out of obligation (have-to) or fear of what others will think, say, or do. Even if you choose to do something stressful because Aunt Mary will really appreciate it, you are still CHOOSING it. There is freedom and lightness in the choosing. Choosing sure beats feeling like a victim of a bunch of have-do’s. You have more choice in most things than you think. And other people will get over things more than you think they will.

      To help you make a choice, try this:

      CHOOSE what you want to do this holiday season

    • Build your Attitude of Gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal throughout the season and make sure you write in it at least once a day. Make a bullet list of things you are grateful for. Include every little thing you can think of, especially those things that are NOT related to the holidays. Maybe you’re even grateful that this kind of holiday season comes only once a year! Put it in there. Thankful for 8 hours of sleep last night. Put it in there. Grateful that a meeting was cancelled. Grateful to get a manicure. Put in in there. Grateful for a warm home. Grateful for a moment of quiet. Grateful for your pet. Put it all in there.

      Looking for the things in your life that you’re glad about helps ease the stress of the season. It helps change the focus of your thinking.

Anxiety is Hazardous to Your Health

If you have anxiety, it’s very likely that you also experience one or more physical health issues. 
 
Did you know that quite a growing number of illnesses and chronic disease conditions are correlated with anxiety disorders?
 
Despite scientific research connecting the dots between anxiety and a growing list of anxiety-related illnesses,anxiety often goes unidentified and is frequently overlooked as a source of other physiological health issues.
 
Physical Illnesses Linked to Anxiety
 
Anxiety has now been implicated in many chronic physical conditions including:
  • gastrointestinal conditions including IBS and Acid Reflux
  • insomnia
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • thyroid problems
  • arthritis
  • migraine headaches
  • chronic respiratory disorders including COPD
Research also shows the impact of anxiety on specific groups of people:
  • People who have panic attacks are more likely to have mitral valve prolapse, hypertension, peptic ulcer, diabetes, chest pain (angina) or thyroid disease.
  • Men with anxiety disorders are at greater risk for cardiac disorders, hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory illness, asthma, and back pain. 
  • Women with anxiety disorders are more likely to have a history of cardiac problems, hypertension, metabolic, gastrointestinal, dermatological, respiratory disorders and arthritis.  
These conditions have also been recently correlated with anxiety:
  • fibromyalgia
  • female hormonal imbalance (including PCOS)
  • sexual dysfunction
  • insulin resistance
  • blood sugar issues
  • weight gain
  • Type 2 diabetes
Serious Stuff
 
Six of the leading causes of death have been also linked with anxiety and stress: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and even suicide.
 
When people with any anxiety-related disease also have untreated anxiety, the disease itself can be more difficult to treat.  Physical symptoms often become worse.
 
The problem is becoming so big that the World Health Organization reports that anxiety and depression (which are often interlinked) could be the second leading causes of disability worldwide by 2020.  That’s just 5 years away!
 
The Missing Connection
 
Anxiety often goes unidentified and is frequently overlooked as a source of other physical health issues.
 
Part of the problem is that although anxiety itself starts in the mind, it does create very real physical symptoms.  Those symptoms can look very much like symptoms of other chronic conditions, such as digestive, thyroid and respiratory disorders.  So it can be confusing for you and your health care practitioners too.
 
Typical anxiety symptoms that can also look like other physical illnesses include:
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest pain
  • Numbing & tingling (especially arms and legs)
  • Sweating
  • Chills or flush (hot flash)
  • Trembling
  • Choking
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
It’s NOT All in Your Head!
 
img_4128Many people with anxiety disorders go through life living needlessly with physical health problems that could be eliminated or improved through anxiety treatment.  Unfortunately, they never make the connection that anxiety could be the source of the problem (or be exacerbating the problem).  
 
If you think you might fall into this category — or if you have IBS, asthma, COPD, or heart disease — you may want to come in to see me to be evaluated for anxiety.  The same is true if you have pain, dizziness, insomnia, or other symptoms that persist after physical causes have been ruled out.
 
Please know that all symptoms are real — and treatable! — whether they originate in the body or the mind.  
 
Holistic, Long-Term Solutions for Anxiety
 

I use the 2 most effective long-term solutions for anxiety (and therefore, for any physical problems linked with anxiety):

These are holistic, healthy, non-medication solutions so you can learn new skills and tools to manage and prevent anxiety.  I help people identify and shift thoughts that generate anxiety, as well as learn new skills to react differently to anxiety-provoking situations.
 
Anxiety medications alone are less effective than CBT and Anxiety Counseling/Psychotherapy over the long term; they may also have unpleasant side effects and interact with other medications. Most of my clients work toward eliminating the medication altogether… 
 
Skills not pills can help you reduce anxiety and improve anxiety-related illnesses at the same time.
 

Sources:

  • Harvard Medical School Special Health Reports
  • National Institutes of Health / World Health Organization 
  • The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy
  • WebMD
  • American Medical Association (AMA), Archives of Internal Medicine