Anxiety

5 Signs of High Functioning Anxiety

5 Signs of High Functioning Anxiety

Every day I work with people who have, what would best be described as, high functioning anxiety.

And when clients no longer need medication and are no longer holed up in their house, they believe that they no longer have anxiety. Not true.

When most people hear the word anxiety, our minds conjure up images of people rocking and crying unable to move and unable to function. Sadly, that’s not exactly a reality for many of us existing despite high functioning anxiety.

Everybody suffers differently.

However, the following five signs are a group of commonalities. If you wonder or are concerned that you are living with high functioning anxiety, please reach out and get the support I know you deserve.

The top 5 common experiences of people living with high functioning anxiety include:

  1. People Have a Hard Time Reading You:  Living with high functioning anxiety can often feel like a full-time job, just keeping your anxiety under wraps. Because other people either know you as one of two things, the rock or someone who is just hard to read.

    While neither of those is really incorrect, they’re not completely accurate either. Sometimes you’re so busy focusing on keeping your anxiety under wraps that other people misread you as being one of those things.

    Because you don’t dare let your face give in to the anxiety because then everything else will begin to fall as well. :(

  2. You Frequently Experience Poor Sleep:  High functioning anxiety often prevents the mind from shutting down off.

    So, getting deep and healing sleep is usually a challenge because y spend more time tossing and turning than you do getting deep, quality sleep.Even on the rare occasions that you get good sleep, you are still exhausted because living with a high level of anxiety and still functioning is exhausting.

  3. You Struggle To Relax:  Many people who live with high functioning anxiety really don’t know how to do “nothing” well.

    When your mind never shuts off, it’s difficult to allow your body to relax and just do nothing. But for many living with high functioning anxiety, there are to do lists that are 17 thousand miles long constantly.. It’s difficult to relax when you are constantly under the scrutiny of the pressure of your own anxiety.

  4. You Are A Perfectionist: Some people are driven by a sense of needing to do it perfectly because to do anything less would render them a failure.  

    The drive to do things perfectly, when living with high functioning anxiety, is different. It’s driven from the fear of disappointing others, the need to over deliver, the negative diatribe that occurs in our brains, and the constant ongoing list of things to do and people to please. While the perfectionism is manifested differently the results are the same: not being able to settle for anything less than absolute perfect at all times in all ways.

  5. You Live With Physical Pain: So many times the anxiety that we live within our minds, manifests itself as pain in its physical forms. Typical pain that can be tied to high functioning anxiety includes headaches, neck pains, shoulder discomfort, and even knots in the stomach. Specifically, if medical reasons and rational have been ruled out it’s highly likely that the actual cause is high functioning anxiety.

I want to advise you that typically high functioning anxiety occurs on a spectrum. These are just the top five common symptoms.

You don’t need to have all five, or even any of these five, in order to struggle with high functioning anxiety. If you suspect that you are living with this, please reach out and get some support. There are tons of techniques and tools out there that will allow you to find the support that will help you to navigate this more effectively.

Some days, getting up to get it done is just HARD. Even if you're a driven woman who LIVES for the rush of running her own business. And one or two days like that is fine. More are not.

I'm going to give the tools you need to get out of the ruts that slow down or stop your dreams on December 14th. Join me and learn the 3 key strategies every driven woman must know to prevent depression and anxiety from stopping her dreams. Click here to get the details.

The Shame of Saying No

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9 Lessons From My Suicide Attempt

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This is not a blog I write lightly. I want to warn people who are feeling hopeless or depressed to be cautious before reading any farther.A little over 10 years ago, I made a decision to end my life. I didn’t leave a note because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I couldn’t conceptualize saying goodbye to anyone without them feeling guilty about not knowing. I didn’t want to cause anyone any more pain. Hindsight is a beast because what looked so confusing and overwhelming in the moment, appears so clearly now. This example is no different. When I made the decision to end my life it was not a decision I made easily. I was struggling with health issues and the doctor’s couldn’t get my heart to regulate properly. I couldn’t get the depression and anxiety that I struggled with at that time, under control at all. I had lost hope entirely. I was exhausted from the battle of self-hatred that I had been engaging in. I had bought a house that I couldn’t afford in any realm. I had graduated with my Master’s Degrees and all of my hopes, dreams and desires seemed so far away. I had lost my passion and lost my drive. I had been doing therapy for decades and I just couldn’t see any improvement. I had been sober for 9 years and I couldn’t find any happiness or joy in my life. I remember vividly making the decision to end my life. My entire house was immaculate, because I didn’t want anyone else to have to clean up my house after I was gone. In what can only be described as a statement true to me, I took all 29 of the pills designed to stop my heart and poured them into my hand. As I popped them into my mouth I said out loud, “Ready or not God, here I come”. And I went to go to sleep on my couch. When I woke up the next morning it was 6:12 am on a Friday morning and I was livid! My instant thoughts were, “Are you kidding me!!?? I can’t even get this right??” In that moment I grabbed a book and went to my garage. I shut the garage door and started the car. The next thing that I was consciously aware of was hearing one of my best friends calling my name. I won’t go into all of the crazy details except to tell you that when she found my lying on the garage floor it was nearly 8pm on Sunday night. I share this story because I know I’m not the only one out there who has survived a suicide attempt. I also share this story because it currently holds no power over me! I have been freed from the shame attached to this experience. It was a huge learning process for me. Since that time I have found holistic ways to alleviate the anxiety and depression I previously experienced. I have also come to terms with my physical body and the health issues my body struggles with. While this process was not fun and I have received ‘concerns’ from other professionals for sharing, I do so with the intent that my transparency is able to help someone else. Following are the lessons I learned as a result of the attempt to end my life: 1. Every Life Matters: As trite as I am sure that sounds to some people, it really is accurate. I had no awareness of how many lives I had touched. Or how many people would be impacted by my death. The five subsequent weeks I spent in the hospital sent me a very clear message that the world would not have been “better off without me”. 2. Nothing is Permanent: I have, at times, in my life suffered from “Foreverism” It’s a term designed to describe when something less than pleasant occurs in your life, and you are convinced it will be like that forever. In reality, nothing is permanent and therefore nothing is forever. No experiences, no situations, no interactions will remain the same forever. As long as people are growing things are changing. 3. Life is finite: As a result of the population I have worked with much of my life, I have seen families devastated by someone’s decision, which ended much differently than mine. Every time I meet a new family impacted by someone else’s decision to end their life, I grieve with them. I also wish that I could have helped their loved one through the process. 4. Hope is eternal: As long as I am breathing and living hope exists. Hope is typically a matter of perspective. While I couldn’t see any hope remaining on that August day 10 years ago, it was there….lurking…waiting for me to reclaim it. The thing with hope is that many times it takes action in order to reclaim it. 5. I am enough: I had previously spent a lot of time beating myself up for not being “_____” enough. As a result of this incident, seeing how many people’s lives I had impacted, as well as having survived such a massive attempt; I became very aware that I am enough just as I am right here and right now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still growing and changing. However, my worth is not dependent on anything external. 6. People care: When I made the decision to end things, I wasn’t able to ask for help. I also couldn’t have listed on one hand the amount of people who cared. I was wrong! I was absolutely wrong! I’m a very caring and loving person and would help anyone if I was capable. And I’m not the only one out there who cares. I am not alone! 7. I have a future: In that moment in time, I didn’t perceive that I had any future at all. I was so stuck in “foreverism” that I couldn’t see beyond the debt I was in, or the relationship I wasn’t in, or the house I couldn’t afford. Every single one of us, has a future that holds tremendous possibility! 8. Healing is possible: In my long ago past, I didn’t think I could ever escape the depression or anxiety. I didn’t think I could function like a normal, healthy and happy adult. I feel the need to point out that my depression was not a result of any of the following things: too much sin, too little prayer, not enough faith. I remain unbelievably grateful that I found my path to healing and hope. 9. Judgement: I have resisted posting this blog for a long time. There’s so much stigma out there for people who have mental health issues. And there is even more stigma for people who have attempted suicide. At this point in time in my life, I can’t be concerned or fearful about what other people will think, feel, worry or say about me. What other people think or say about me is none of my business. In that, I have found huge freedom. I have tremendous amounts of love in my life and unbelievable support as well.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I want to apologize for the harm that you have experienced. I can’t even begin to imagine the grief and loss that you are experiencing. I want to honor your feelings and your experiences. If you are a person who has or is considering ending their life PLEASE GET HELP NOW! THERE IS HOPE FOR YOU!!!

Jenn Bovee LCSW is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. She offers in person and distance sessions to a variety of people. Learn more about Jenn here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com

Time out!

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In the world of fair fighting this is a term to describe when both parties agree to not engage for a specified period of time. In the parenting world it’s where your child is not engaging with other people for a specified reason. However, for the purpose of this blog we are going to be looking at a different direction of the time out philosophy. When is the last time you took time out for you? I love working and staying busy, and this might be the first time in my life that I’m only working one job. However, working full time, being a wife, a mother for two bonus teenagers, and five pets leaves little time for me. I’m not trying to be dramatic here, simply realistic. By nature, of me being me, I am typically cognizant of those people in my environment and I work to make their lives better.

I’ve realized lately that while I absolutely love my life, my family, my job; I need to take time for myself. Time when I’m just focusing on filling my cup and not focused on anyone else. Can you imagine how much more recharged you would fill if you took time just for you, on a regular basis? I think that this would make you a better person and you would be able to be more present in all of your activities and relationships.

Because it has become first nature for most of us to take care of others, I would like to offer you some suggestions on how to take some time out for you:

  1. Set a timer: This seems like a ridiculous suggestion, but please read it all the way through. This is a great technique specifically for people who are time oriented. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Surely you can find 20 minutes a week to take some time out for you.
  2. Drop the guilt: Let’s be honest for a moment. Most of us are not motivated by guilt, so what purpose does it really serve. The only purpose I can find for guilt in my own life is to keep me stuck or paralyzed. Let’s agree to drop the guilt now, and replace it with complete acceptance.
  3. Ask for help: If this is a brand new concept for you, it might not be safe for you to just go out and spend time alone. Ask the person or people closest to you for help, motivation and accountability. What a phenomenal way to partner with those that you love.
  4. Just say no: While this might sound like a petty cliché, in reality is a very solid suggestion. No is a complete sentence. You do not owe anyone an explanation today. Let’s agree to give up the need to justify our decisions. Practice saying no to simple and easy things first, which will allow you to build up to saying no to the bigger things.
  5. Drop the struggle: One of my favorite sayings is that those things that we resist grow stronger, and those things we accept dissipate quicker. How much different do you think your life would be if you accepted your own need for a time out, and allowed it to happen.
  6. De-clutter:  I am, by nature, the exact opposite of a hoarder. Clutter, junk, and messes give me a certain level of anxiety. Can you imagine how much more welcoming and accepting you would feel of your needs if your home, vehicle, office and body were de-cluttered?   It’s an ongoing goal of mine, and while I’m not perfect at it, I can recognize the strides I’ve made.
  7. Claim it: If we go off of the foundation that we create our reality by our thoughts, how much more powerful are out words? I would encourage you to state that you are going to begin taking a time out for yourself. This seems like the natural foundation for allowing this type of activity.
  8. Eliminate the all or nothing: I’m not sure that there are any philosophies as damaging as the all or nothing mindset. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It doesn’t need to be that you take a week in the middle of the jungle with no outside contact or no time for you at all. Why not start with small, measurable, achievable goals? Let’s set ourselves up for success versus failure.

 

I’m making the commitment to myself that I’m going to take three 30-minute time outs for myself the next week. What commitments are you willing to make for yourself? I think you are worth it! What’s stopping you?

JennBovee, LCSW is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. Jenn offers in person and distance life coaching sessions. Learn more about her here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com

6 Lessons From Pixar’s Inside Out

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I don’t usually blog about movies, but this is not ordinary movie. Whether you come from an Internal Family Systems approach or a Parts Perspective or are just a living breathing human being; this movie is worth the investment. I was excited to see this movie since the first preview was released. This is one of those movies I will own. While Inside Out is advertised as a children’s movie, it is so much more than that. I watched this movie with my husband and my 18-year-old bonus daughter. My entire family is used to me crying through just about any movie, but my bonus daughter was crying as well. I was surprised to say the least. This movie has a phenomenal message. Allow me to share with you the main things I got out of this movie.

  1. Emotions are complex creatures: In this movie there were a few different emotions. They included joy, anger, fear, disgust, and sadness. At times through out the movie it would appear as if there was a hierarchy of which feeling was in charge. And in the exact next moment it would become clear that there was no such hierarchy, it was almost an every feeling for itself kind of world.
  2. Emotions and feelings don’t always co-exist very well: At one point during the movie, joy becomes frustrated with sadness. Joy basically tells sadness to get lost and the fall out is detrimental. Is that not similar to how it happens for most people? I’m a firm believer that every feeling and emotion has a job and a responsibility. I also struggle with the concept of certain feelings being positive while others are negative. In my mind every feeling is what it is, the problem lies in our response to the feelings.
  3. Everyone has emotions: I really loved how the feeling parts were not just limited to the daughter, but the mom and the dad had them as well.   I have encountered countless people who attempt to explain that they don’t have feelings or emotions. In my experience, nothing could be farther from the truth. I suspect this movie was accurate in their depiction of the feelings, in that everyone has them, but frequently people are not aware of them. I have become somewhat of an observer of people. In that process I have noticed that people who claim to not have feelings, are just not as in touch with them as others are.
  4. All feelings are necessary: If we all lived in the world according to me, I would never ever experience anger. It’s not my go to feeling or emotion. It doesn’t leave the safe and satisfying feeling in my soul. But I have come to believe that each and every feeling is necessary and valid. Let me just play this out for you. If you never experienced any sadness do you think the joy you feel would be as strong or as powerful? If you never experienced fear do you think the love you feel would be as strong?
  5. Everyone has core memories: This was an important revelation for me. Through out the movie, something happens to the core memories. Prior to this, I had not given much thought to the core memory concept. I suspect that all people have positive core memories and some less than positive core memories. It is those very memories that shape and mold who we are as a person. For me, the memory of walking up and down the road looking for my favorite pet rock stays with me.
  6. People still don’t understand the subconscious mind: As someone who specializes in the subconscious mind this saddened me. In the movie the subconscious mind was described as a dark and scary place. This saddened me (while I understand that it’s most people’s perceptions) because I absolutely love the subconscious mind. I also suspect that once you understand how your subconscious mind works and how to change it’s programming; your perception and relationship to it changes as well.

 

Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. Learn more about her here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com

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The Magic of Sleep

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I have never been a good sleeper. Even as a child, after my sister fell asleep I would take my pillow and blanket and lay on the hallway floor and watch television. On my best nights I would lay there for two and a half hours before I fell asleep. On my worst nights it was substantially worse. As I grew older my poor sleep continued to grow more and more out of control. At one point, in my adult life, my sleep was so poor that if you pieced together all the ten-minute sections of sleep I got, it would equate to just about three hours. To say this impacted every area of my life is the greatest understatement of all time. Are you aware of how your body and mind are impacted by sleep loss? Many people are aware that sleep loss causes depression and even accident proneness, but what about the other areas impacted by sleep loss? Here’s a short run down of the impact of sleep loss: Weakened immune response, weight gain, impaired brain function, cognitive dysfunction, high blood pressure, heart disease, destroys sex drive, and is responsible for accidental deaths. The impact of sleeplessness is wide ranging, but I wanted to give you a taste for it.

For those of you who have struggled with getting deep, healing, rejuvenating sleep I would recommend the following immediately: do not use the bed for anything other than sleep and sex. Any other activities done in bed create confusion in your subconscious mind. Remember that 96-98% of habits and behaviors are stored in your subconscious mind. As such if the habit is that when you lay down you are doing anything other than sleep it creates confusion for your subconscious mind. At the end of the day sleep is a habit. My goal is to empower you to change your habit so that you can live the life you have always wanted to.

Here are my sleep suggestions:

  1. Disconnect: Inside of the television there is a blue tube that is designed to stimulate your brain. The IPAD is capable of depleting all of the melatonin in your brain. I recommend disconnecting all electronics at least a half hour to 45 minutes prior to bed time. Read a book, take a bath, clean the kitchen sink; whatever else we do we must stop stimulating our brains.
  2. Routine: All sleep experts agree on the validity of a sleep routine. My personal sleep routine is before bed I take my vitamins and supplements, drink a bottle of water, and brush my teeth. My experience is that once you being using a sleep routine the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep will diminish.
  3. Self-hypnosis: Once I learned how to use self-hypnosis my sleep substantially improved! If you are not using self-hypnosis I would strongly encourage you to begin. It’s hugely healing and it’s been a game changer for me. While engaging in self hypnosis I typically affirm that I am able to quickly and easily get to a deep level of sleep.
  4. Gratitude Game: Occasionally I will struggle with achieving sleep quickly. On those occasions when I am struggling with sleep, I play the gratitude game. The way I play it is I think of something to be grateful for that begins with the letters of the alphabet. If by some chance I am still awake by the time I reach the letter Z, then I just do it backwards coming up with different things to be grateful for.
  5. Deep Breathing: This is such a valid and helpful component; I just couldn’t leave it out. Engaging in deep breathing relaxes the brain and body. Just for a moment do 5 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. I would encourage you to do this several times a day.
  6. Letting go:  Many people have developed the habit of reviewing their day once they are in bed.  Find a way to release the stress, anxiety, and worry before you ever climb into bed.  Methods of letting go of these issues include: journaling, exercising, bathing, walking. Find a way that works for you.

Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. Jenn offers in person therapy as well as distance life coaching. If you would like to learn more about Jenn or her services please check her out here:  www.JennBoveeLCSW.com

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