Professional Earthquakes: Steps to turn Anxiety into Action

Talk Given at Annual Belizean Grove Retreat

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, January 28, 2012

Professional Earthquakes: 7 Steps to Turn your Anxiety into Action

As Women we are prone to more anxiety having fear centers in out frontal cortex. Social support is key mitigator of this fear.

With a change, anxiety increases…. Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. Getting the right amount is key.

Anxiety/Functioning diagram (Yerkses Dodson Curve) shows that too much anxiety inhibits functioning. When dealing with trauma, anxiety needs to be curtailed to restore optimal functioning. How do you do that? And raise functioning. Then the work of integrating and healing from it.

Consider Medication, talking talking talking (building new neural pathways), talking to start to deperesonalize, build a narrative to compartmentalize, separate personally from it, exercise, deep breathing, reducing past successes down to mantras to remember. A laminated card to help remember, and social support. You will find out who your friends are and those relationships will deepen.

1)    If anxiety is causing physical symptoms (sleep loss, appetite change, tremor, inability to focus), pull back anxiety to restore physical functioning. (maybe the most important thing). Maslows hierarchy of needs – Meds? Exercise? Nutrition

2)    Get support and make sure you feel understood. Use others’ compassion and empathy as a model for your own needed self compassion and empathy. Listen to them in their support and understanding and hear their suggestions.

3)    Aided by self empathy, muster mental discipline and resist urge to stay stuck and wallow. Self Empathy is not self pitty. Recognize the temptation and indulgence of self pity and resist it.  Avoid activities that don’t make you feel better, and might make things worse (avoiding work, watching tv, overeating, sedentariness)

4)    Recognize your key fears and harness their energy towards taking action. Use your fears to construct their solutions.

5)    Make an action plan, breaking down tasks into small, discreet tasks. So small you don’t even notice them as activities, much less activities that merit anxiety.

6)    Choose courage instead of fear, and act. Courage is feeling fear and facing it anyway.

7)    Notice each step and feel your confidence growing. This increasing self esteem is yours and it is earned. Anxiety’s energy is available to help fuel continued and sustained action. And pretty soon, you will be on your way.!

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD