Worrying Less in 5 Steps




About the Author: Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author and speaker who synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing.

We’ve all heard the saying that in life there are ups and down and there is the classic eastern saying that life is filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. With this there’s the wisdom that all things come and go, but the brain has a funny way of amplifying the sorrows and minimizing the joys for good evolutionary reasons.



Whenever the brain perceived something as “bad” it starts to worry about it. But often times there is no real utility to the worry, it only serves to dig us into a deeper hole and blinds us to the joys that might be waiting around the corner.

Here is one of the best cartoons I’ve found that says it like it is:

Worrying Won't Stop the Bad Stuff from Happening it just stops you from enjoying the good.
Illustration by Charles Schulz

There really is no way to cure worrying, but we can learn to get better and better at recognizing it and gently guiding ourselves back to a sense of perspective and what matters.

 

1. Soften your understanding of worry

The utility of worry is to try and anticipate and avoid any potential dangers and to keep us safe. It’s the brain trying to protect us and so worrying certainly has its place and time. But often times worrying only serves to ramp up our nervous system and kick us into an imbalanced place that only leads to more worrying. The brain has good intentions, but it leads us down a destructive vicious cycle.



 

2. Allow/Accept the feeling

Worrying usually arouses the feeling of fear or anxiety. In this mindful step, we’re simply acknowledging that this feeling is here. Calling it out. We want to do the opposite of resist it, because what we resists persists. So instead we practice allowing it to be as it is. Here you are just saying to yourself, “allowing, allowing, allowing.”



3. Feel into it with kindness

Now we have the opportunity to deepen our awareness and investigate the feeling. Here you may choose to put your hand on your heart or wherever you feel the sensation in your body. This is one way of signaling to the brain a sense of love or kindness to the feeling which may shift it all by itself. The brain also has to map the sensation of the touch with is inversely correlated with mental rumination, turning the volume down on negative thinking.

1. As you feel into it you might ask, “What does this feeling believe?” Does it believe you are unlovable, unworthy, or perhaps that if you allow it to be, it will consume you?

2. Ask the question, what does this feeling need right now? Does it need to feel cared for, to feel secure, to feel a sense of belonging?

3. Whatever the answer, see if you can plant these as seeds in yourself. For example you can plant the seeds of intention saying, “May I feel safe and secure, may I be free from this fear, may I feel a sense of belonging.”Make this personal to whatever your needs are.



 

4. Expand awareness and wishes to all people

Whatever the worrying is about, it’s important you know you’re not alone. Feeling vulnerable is part of the human condition and millions of people struggle with the same source of vulnerability that you experience. But when we’re feeling vulnerable with anxiety it often times is all about us, we need to also impersonalize the experience and get outside of ourselves.

You can do this by imagining all the other people who struggle worrying and wish them all the same intentions that you just wished yourself.

For example, May we all feel a sense of safety and security, May we all be free from the fear that keeps us stick in a perpetual cycle of worry, May we all feel that sense of belonging, etc…




5. Repeat steps one through four over several thousand times.

If you notice, steps one through four spell the acronym SAFE so you can easily remember what it is and what it’s for. As you intentionally practice this over and again, in time you will notice that you start to become less reactive to the worried mind, more compassionate with yourself as it arises, and even have perspective that this worrying is part of the human condition and you are not alone.

We we were able to turn the volume down on worrying in our lives, what would be there instead? For many people, it’s a sense of spaciousness, ease and joy.






8 Good Reasons to Limit your Wheat Consumption





One of the most frequent questions I have in practice is about wheat/gluten-free and my take on how it effects the body and mind. After conducting more research on the topic, I found more than enough reasons to cut out wheat completely from my own diet. Here are the top 8 to get you started:

 

1. Not the original wheat


First of all, wheat is not what it was thousands of years ago, or even fifty years ago. Wheat today is produced by countless hybridiazations making for thousands of different potentially harmfull proteins and other compounds.

We now have “wheat” that was grown in synthetic soil, saturated in chemicals, made to survive the worst environmental conditions and cultivated so that no pest would eat it – and we’re wondering if this could make us sick? Currently there is no requirement for crops that have undergone hybridization to be tested on animals or humans. Read more about this here and here.



 

2. Increases blood sugar higher than table sugar


Wheat’s main carbohydrate is Amylopectin A and raises your blood sugar higher and faster than any other carbohydrate including table sugar! When there is a large amount of sugar in your blood all at once, this signals a large amount of insulin to remove this sugar as quickly as possible and deliver this preferentially to your fat cells (why we call insulin the fat storage hormone).

This is why you feel hungry an hour or two after eating a wheat product – all the sugar has been removed from your bloodstream by then and your cells are still hungry because your fat cells are hogging all of the energy.




 

3. Addictive


Wheat contains a unique protein called gliadin which, when broken down in the body into polypeptides, crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds the morphine receptor in the brain (i.e. euphoric center). These particular polypeptides are termed “exorphins” (exogenous morphine like compounds) because of how like other opiates, you feel a mini-high after ingesting and a slump short while after.

In short, these exorphins stimulate the addictive, pleasure seeking part of your brain, stimulating your appetite making you want more and more. Just as other drugs that bind the morphin receptor (think heroin, morphin), this repeated exposure distorts the brain causing mental fog, sluggishness, fatigue and makes one more susceptible to depression and other psychological disorders down the road.

Interesting note – there are now drugs that contain naloxone to treat obesity. Naloxone is formerly known as a drug used to treat narcotic overdose, most notably heroin. It works for weight loss because it blocks the morphine receptor, exorphins are unable to bind, and thus prevents appetite from being stimulated.




 

4. Blocks your brain from understanding you are full


Digested wheat proteins have been found to block the leptin receptor. This is bad because leptin functions to tell our brain that we are full – if this is being blocked, you are more likely to be hungrier regardless of how much you may have just eaten.



 

5. Increased risk for diabetes and obesity


This goes along with it’s addictive like quality, stimulating your appetite, increasing blood sugar rapidly, and blocking the mechanism that tells you that you are full. This is a recipe for you to overeat (overeat carbohydrates in particular because of their addictive quality), which leads to obesity and diabetes from too much carbohydrate ingestion aka chronic high blood sugar.

I hear all the time from slender patients not understanding how they can be at risk for diabetes with a normal weight and eating healthy “whole grains.” It doesn’t matter if you are thin or overweight, if you are consuming a high carbohydrate diet (which is easiest to do with consuming too many wheat products) your blood sugar will be chronically elevated unless you start making changes.



 

6. Worsening of ADHD 


This is still a controversial topic and more studies need to be done to look at this, but there have been many studies showing the improvement of ADHD in children and adults when cutting out the wheat products. You can read more about this here.



 

7. Inflammation to your gut


Gluten is the main protein of wheat, and it is made up of two proteins gliadin and glutenins. Gliadin is the primary group that triggers the immune response (i.e. infallmation) in celiac diease. But even beyond gluten and celiac diease, there are a wide range of other proteins present in wheat, more than could ever be accounted for due to the countless transformations via countless cross-breeding of strains as discussed above.

These modified proteins as well as gluten have been shown to be associated with irritable bowel syndrome in non-celiac disease individuals, and accounts for digestive issues in individuals without full-blown celiac diease. This is why individuals who cut out wheat tend to have less stomach issues.



 

8. Joint inflammation


As discussed above, wheat products raise your blood sugar more than nearly all foods. The more your blood sugar rises, the more glycation occurs. Glycation is when a sugar binds to protein causing irrversible changes, and thereby modifies proteins in the blood stream, body tissues, and joints. Glycation is particularly damaging to cartilage, and when cartilage proteins become glycated they become stiff. Overtime, glycation makes the cartilage brittle, stiff, and crumbling resulting in more pain and destruction in your joints.



I know it sounds hard to cut back on wheat (because wheat is in virtually all processed foods), but replace with filling full fat foods – avocado, eggs, olive oil, cheese, etc. Healthy non-processed fats should be the bulk of your diet, as the low-fat craze has brought upon the increased obesity, diabetes, and heart diease rate since it was instituted in the 1970s – more on this for another post. If you want to read more about the effects of wheat I highly recommend the book Wheat Belly by cardiologist William Davis, MD.



 

5 Tried-and-True Ways to Increase Happiness in Daily Life





About the Author: Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author and speaker who synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing.

We all want to be happy, undeniably.

For some people happiness comes easier than others, but what we’re starting to understand is that happiness, that sense of connection and ease of appreciating the good moments and being more graceful and resilient during the difficult ones, is a skill and strength that we can all build.




Here are Five Simple Ways to Increase Happiness in Daily Life (Note: Set all judgments aside when you read this, practice them for yourself and let your experience be your teacher).

1. Practice happiness for other people’s happiness

When you see someone doing good things for themselves like exercising, laughing with a group of friends, or celebrating an accomplishment, practice being supportive to them in your mind. Say things like “good for you for taking care of yourself” or “glad you’re having a moment of joy,” smile in your mind at them or just say “Yes!”




 

2. Practice non-violent communication toward yourself

We’ve known for a long time we’re our own worst critics and the way we talk to ourselves has a major impact on how we feel. Being a little self-critical is okay, but most of us experience it all too regularly. That has to be nipped in the bud as a practice. See if you can label any of that self-judgment and in that moment flip it to actively thinking about things you like about yourself.




 

3. Practice non-violent communication toward others 

When feeling frustrated it’s natural for humans to employ sarcasm, contempt, or to manipulate other people to get what we want. However, this type of communication toward others is like poison for our well-being. Whenever you notice any of this poison arising in you, take a few deep breaths and exercise restraint, you’ll thank yourself later.




4. Relax your nervous system

We happen to live in a world that is very fast paced, it’s no wonder that stress and anxiety are on the rise. It’s important to consciously relax our bodies a few times a day. Take a deep breath, scan your body to find where you can soften or stretch the muscles that are tense. Make this a practice, you’ll be surprised how much this can help.




 

5. Be aware of the good 

There’s a lot of “Bad” news out there that dials up our nervous systems and makes us want to keep coming back to hear more, which only feeds a “nervous” system. Instead, create some balance, your brain is less likely to see all the good, so you have to intentionally pay attention to it. When you notice a good moment, notice it, “this is a good moment, in life there are good moments, can I allow myself to linger in this for a few seconds?” Let the neurons fire together and wire together.

 

Of course there are all kinds of other things that can support our happiness including sleep, exercise, time in nature, and play. Although these are all important factors that can contribute to our well-being, the above five ways I’ve shared are all simple habits that take no extra time out of your life.

It becomes not so much about time management, but attention management.




 

Here’s the simple instructions:

Practice this for one week. Perhaps you’d like to go down the list and just focus on one per day, then see what you notice at the end of the week. As a bonus, emotional contagion is a real science and so as you practice this, imagine the ripple effects your happiness has on those around you.

 




10 Seconds to Stress Less




About the Author: Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author and speaker who synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing.

Most people I meet would like to be calmer and more focused on what matters in the moments of their lives. But the more stressed we are, the less open we are to creative ideas and the more prone we are to procrastination.




Here is a 10-second practice that I challenge you to practice a few times a day and realize its power to help you focus on what matters moment-to-moment. Inevitably, as you practice and repeat this, you’ll become more of a PRO at life.

The Be a PRO Practice

  1. P – Pause – This is the initial step that helps break the auto-pilot stress cycle.
  2. R – Relax your body – When we’re stressed, our muscles get tight which sends signals back to the brain to fight, flee or freeze, making thoughts more distracted and chaotic. Relaxing the body, does the opposite, it begins to open the mind again, making it easier to focus.
  3. O – Open to what matters in the moment – As the body is relaxed we have a greater chance to be more aware of creative ideas or simply the ability to focus on the task at hand.




Here are 10 really good places where practicing being a PRO at life can come in handy:

1. Being a PRO at life means starting your day this way…wake up, relax your body, open up to your intentions for the day.

2. Getting caught in the flurry of getting yourself or the family ready in the morning and feeling irritated? This is a perfect opportunity for pausing, relaxing and opening to being with them or getting things prepared.

3. Traffic got you down? Stoplights are a great place to practice being a PRO.

4. Finding yourself in a tense business meeting? PRO.

5. Having a challenging discussion with your partner or kids? PRO.




6. Giving a speech in front of a lot of people and feeling anxious? PRO.

7. Sitting at the dinner table and everyone is on their phones? PRO.

8. Worrying about something that you have no control over? PRO.

9. Texting while driving? PRO.

10. Laying down for the night and having trouble falling asleep because your mind is spinning? PRO.

Don’t take my word for it, actually plug this in a few times a day and see what you notice.

What you practice and repeat starts to become automatic. Imagine if you could learn to get better and better at feeling a greater sense of personal control.

What might be different?



 

The Worst Vacation Habits Making You Gain Weight – Podcast Episode #62

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Taking a vacation is one of the very best things you can do for yourself because it’s a time to make happy memories and to reset and recharge. That being said, vacation can also be a time that you sabotage your healthy diet and exercise routine if you don’t plan accordingly. Listen to this episode to learn the worst vacation choices making you gain weight.

  

Saltiest Foods Making You Bloated and Heavy – Podcast Episode #61

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Do you ever consider how much sodium you are consuming? Most individuals need under 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This might sound like a lot, but it actually adds up very quickly and most will actually eat twice as much of this recommended amount. Ok, so why should you care? Well, aside from being linked to heart problems and certain diseases, too much sodium can also make you very uncomfortable. This is because an overload of sodium in the body leads to fluid retention, weight gain, bloating, and all around puffiness – nobody wants any of that. Listen to this episode to learn the foods you should limit and maybe avoid.