Its All In Your Head Passion Squared

It’s All In Your Head: My Truth About Anxiety

“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” Steve Maraboli

(this post was originally published on February 10, 2014. I have gotten so many requests recently to discuss the topic of anxiety I chose to update it today)

Anxiety sucks. And its real. It can rob of us so much joy. It can paralyze us and isolate us. I am continually asked about this topic as I have shared openly that I live with anxiety and panic disorder, and on Saturday, a beautiful member of the Passion Squared community asked that I share some ways that I have been able to deal with it.

First and foremost, I am not a doctor. Duh. But I am in treatment and continue to battle this crippling condition, successfully (most of the time), thus, my ability to speak on the topic from MY experience.

Lets begin with the definition of generalized anxiety disorder explained by The National Institute of Mental Health…

“All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.”

So yes, it is all in our head, and for us, the fear and worry are very real.

The following are the ways that I treat my anxiety today…

1. Therapy
I consistently see a therapist. Knowing that I have a mental disorder, I have accepted that one of the best ways to keep my head straight is to treat it. When we have a physical health issue, we see a doctor. Mental health is no different.

2. Eating + Exercise
One of the best pieces of advice I was given that works for me was about keeping my blood sugar regulated, meaning, eating some type of protein every 3-4 hours. In addition to that, I am very mindful of how much I mix caffeine and sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE espresso and drink it every morning. But I do not drink Venti Iced Mochas (sugar mixed with caffeine). Now on the exercise front, it works. And while I am not yet to the point where I do it consistently, when I do, my anxiety is greatly reduced.

3. Vitamin B
Again, I am not a doctor and am not saying what works for me will work for you, but keeping loaded up on B vitamins has absolutely helped me. And when I am not staying loaded up on B’s, I can feel the difference.

4. Music
Whenever I am absolutely freaking out, I throw in my ear buds and listen to meditation music, Zen type stuff. It seems to really help calm down my heart rate. At the same time, if I am getting ready to present in front of an audience and cannot catch my breath, which is often, I will listen to my fave hip hop song, it seems to work for me as well.

5. Gratitude + Meditation + Prayer
One of the things I have learned about anxiety is that it can go from bad and to worse the more we focus on it and all the things we are fearful of. When I make my gratitude list, for just that moment, I get out of my head. It works. Same goes for meditation and prayer. Now, I am not religious, but I do my own kind of prayer. The meditation thing, I do by listening to meditation music as mentioned in #4.

6. Take A Walk
I know, I get so angry when people are like…”Just take a walk, you will feel better.” OMG, do you have any idea what I am going thorough right now? But in all seriousness, removing myself from the current environment, just for a few moments, helps. So if you are at work, walk outside. At home, move to another room. Anything you can do to change your environment can help.

7. Give Someone A Hand
This is a big one. The more we focus on our fears, the more fearful and anxious we become. So again, like the gratitude list, its good to get out of our own heads. Helping someone out, a co-worker, a boss, a friend or neighbor helps me get out of my head, and move past the anxiety I am feeling in that moment.

8. Medication
Now again, I am NOT A DOCTOR. I am only speaking from my experience and plead with you to go back to point 1, see a mental health professional and together, decide what the best treatment for you is. I have chosen not to be consistently medicated. Reason being, I tried, and I had disastrous results. My choice has been to work my ass off to battle this disorder the most natural way I can. However, I do have a prescription for a medication that I take ONLY when I am in a serious and debilitating attack. I am proud to say, I only have to take this 1-2 times a month, at most. And it is always a last resort for me.

9. Healthy Boundaries + Creating Space
Last but not least, I have created a space of peace and calm in my world. I have removed toxic people, toxic places, and most toxic things. I have sacrificed a lot to do this, but as an adult, I get to choose. And so do you. This could mean saying NO more, pairing down that to-so list, removing projects that are overwhelming you, staying offline from time to time, etc. It is a choice. As hard as that is to grasp.

Living with anxiety blows but we do have a choice of how we are going to let it control our lives. And like anything worth having in life, it takes work.

A big shout out of love + gratitude to Duke Strange, who inspired this post.

If you are looking for some daily inspiration and help with keeping you on track, sign up for my Awesome A Day text coaching program, one of the most loved services I offer.

Love + Awesomeness-

Sad Face

It’s Just A Bad Day

“Its just a bad day, not a bad life.”


Sad Face

 (image via Google)

Here is the audio version of this post. Thank you so much for listening.

Some days SUCK! They just do, and in the moment, it seems like our entire life will suck too. But I am here to tell you it won’t, as long as we don’t let it.

For those who have read my book, Follow Your HEART, thank you so much BTW, you know that I struggle with depression and anxiety, and yes, I have a ton of bad days. So I speak from a little bit of experience as I share my thoughts.

What I have learned is that they do not last. But we have to do our part to ensure they don’t. How do I pick myself up? Here are some ways…

1. Be kind and gentle to myself.
2. Accept the reality that sometimes life sucks.
3. Create a gratitude list and try to focus on what’s good, even though I don’t want to.
4. Connect with friends.
5. Cuddle with my dogs.
6. Do something for others.
7. Sleep.
8. Create some kind of art.
9. Watch meaningless TV.
10. Clean the loft.
11. Remind myself it won’t last forever.
12. Take a walk around my neighborhood (which sadly has a large homeless population mostly due to mental illness and addiction) and witness firsthand the reality of what a bad day really looks like.

One of the biggest challenges I see with having a bad day is that we give it so much energy it becomes more than it is. It’s only a bad day. Not a bad life. Remember that.

Love + awesomeness-

PS: This applies to our businesses too. We can throw our hands up in the air and decide one bad day or week will become a bad month or year. Or we can dig in and determine what needs to be changed, to create more good days than bad. It’s a choice.

Are you looking to create more awesome in your biz + life? Subscribe (directly to the right of this post) to The Weekly Dose of Awesome , my weekly newsletter loaded with love + goodness, delivered to your inbox, every Monday morning.

Until You Consider

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. – To Kill A Mockingbird

 Here is the audio version of this post. Thank you so much for listening.

As I opened up the TMZ app Sunday morning, my heart sank, another beloved celebrity, another drug overdose.  Then comes all the voices on the internet, some singing praises and sadness, many passing judgement. It happens. Every time. And every time. I sit in horror and sadness.

I never knew Philip Seymour Hoffman, or Cory Monteith, or Chris Farley or many of the millions of souls who lives are taken by drugs, or mental illness.

What I do know, however, all too well, is my own battle and the battles of my loved ones.

Suicide resides on both sides of my family as does addiction.  I have sat by the bedside of loved ones as they survived their 3rd heroin OD in as many years.

I have come close to taking my own life, twice, and have battled with addiction in many forms. So you bet I understand. And I have immense compassion.

Its time to get serious about mental health. Its time to acknowledge that so many of our problems as a society stem from not addressing mental health issues. Homelessness, mass shootings, crime, prison overcrowding, overdoses and suicides, so much of it stems from mental health.

Until you have climbed into my skin, you may never really know what it feels like to be in so much pain that dying seems like the best solution. Until you have climbed into the skin of a heroin addict or a schizophrenic, or someone who is bi polar, you will never fully understand. But instead of judging and blaming, how about become part of the solution.

You see, one of the most tragic things about mental health is we struggle in silence. We don’t have a disease that people rally around and raise money for. No, we are the forgotten ones until a famous person tragically shows up in the news. Then one 24 hour news cycle later, we are forgotten again.

What can we do? Get educated. Show some compassion. Listen. Stop judging. Talk about it. Lift the stigma.

Just like any movement, the more people that become aware, the more conversations we have, the more we can bring about change.

While there are many quality facilities that offer help, there are not enough. We can do better. For ourselves, our families, our friends, our co-workers and our communities.

This is not about politics, its about life.

(shared with LOVE from Nina)

Inside My Reality

Inside My Reality

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”


Leo Buscaglia

Inside My Reality

Here is the audio version of this post. Thank you for listening.
Inside My Reality

This is by far one of the most difficult posts I have ever written. But my heart is telling me it’s time. Passion Squared is about truth. The truth about our lives and our businesses. When I saw that my friend, hairdresser, photographer and film maker Damien Laliberte started the Inside My Reality documentary project, I knew it was time to share one of my darkest secrets.

A little over 6 years ago, I almost took my own life. I have suffered from mental illness since I was a child, but did not know the depths of my condition till it was almost too late. I was one of the lucky ones. There is so much more to be done. I still struggle every day of my life. But I am alive and can do my part to help the millions of others that suffer as I do.

This is my buddy Damien. I sat down with him to learn more about his project. This is his story.

Damien Laliberte

Tell me a little bit about Inside My Reality.

It’s an independent film project voicing the every day reality so many of living under the shadow of mental illness feel. It’s not happy, it’s not sad, it’s just honest life.

Why are you so passionate about this topic?

I suffer from a mental illness, a lot of friends and family do, and there have recently been a string of suicides in my small rural town that has really made me realize that something is wrong with how we’re handling these topics.

The materials and education (if any) we give to young adults on these topics is so often laughably bad – my favorite example is to reference the anti-marijuana movies from the 50’s and 60’s, like Reefer Madness. That’s how off the mark the stuff we’re giving kids today is, and they KNOW it. So of COURSE it’s not helping.

Why should I support this project?

Unlike a charity, I’m not out to endlessly raise money. I’m not trying to raise awareness, sell ribbons, sell t-shirts – I am making something. Something that once made, will exist and be available and will not come back asking for donations next year to fund more ribbon and t-shirt sales.

How are you using the social + digital space to fuel this project?

This project is almost entirely fueled by the social networks I travel in over the Internet! I’m a big Twitter guy, but my YouTube video first got attention by being shared around town. Then came a website, which got too much traffic, so it was replaced with a Facebook page which is almost up to 800 likes as of writing this.

It’s how I communicate with people about this project, it’s how people reach me, it’s how teens and people who want to be part of the project reach me, it’s how my project material is disseminated into the world. It’s how I’ve been reached for interviews and professional connections. None of this would have been possible without the extreme power of having networked connections online.

“I think it’s time to start listening to them.” Damien Laliberte, Inside My Reality

Thank you Damien, for your friendship, your courage and your commitment to making a difference. I love you. Infinity and beyond.

To be part of helping our future generations who suffer from mental illness like Damien and I do, visit Inside My Reality, make a donation and share if you feel inspired. You can also keep up with Damien and Inside My Reality on Facebook and Twitter.

We thank you for your support.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression or has suicidal thoughts, there is help. A few of the groups I support are The Trevor Project, It Get’s Better, National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

(shared with LOVE from Nina + Damien)