The Art of Manliness – How to Deal with Anxiety

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Intro
When does worry translate into an anxiety disorder?
  • Worry is normal, but it becomes problematic when that level of worry stops you from functioning
  • When you’re constantly living in the future, and thinking of the worst case scenarios, it’s a problem
  • “You worry to a point where it impairs you”
How can anxiety be debilitating?
  • The number one way people try to cope with anxiety – avoidance
  • Ask yourself – “Are you basing decisions about your day on preference, or fear?”
    • This can be as simple as deciding where you choose to sit in a coffee shop, someone with social anxiety might choose to sit where they’re least likely to be seen
Anxiety and Self-Medication
  • Alcohol is a depressant, and anxiety is about being too activated, so it helps
    • If you drink, you have to make sure you’re doing it out of choice, and not for medication
  • Marijuana can make people more anxious, especially sativas
Are certain people more prone to having anxiety disorders?
  • Yes – anxious parents have anxious children
  • It’s part genetic
  • Certain environments can also trigger anxiety
Why are anxiety disorders on the rise?
  • We’re getting better at having conversations about what anxiety is – our diagnostic criteria has gotten better
  • Parenting has changed – we went away from helping teach children how to tolerate distress, to teaching them how to soothe
    • The job of parents went from simply child raising, to trying to make them as successful as possible
Anxiety and Depression
  • They are linked, to a certain degree
  • 25% of people have some anxiety related issue throughout childhood
  • Often depression is misdiagnosed when anxiety is the cause
Men and Anxiety
  • Men are good at avoiding and distracting themselves
  • The rates of anxiety are higher in women, but that could just be because women are reporting it more
  • Usually with angry/agitated men, there’s some form of anxiety beneath the anger
  • Growing up as men, we never really had a model for how to deal with negative emotions
Anxiety is often based on irrational fears
  • Our brain’s main job is to make sure we’re alive and safe – when there’s any potential danger, the brain wants us to protect ourselves
  • “Anxiety is the anticipation of something bad happening, but it’s not actually dangerous”
  • Catastrophic Worrying – we make illogical conclusions
    • For example, if one thing goes wrong (like you failing a test) through a series of steps, eventually you arrive at -“Now I won’t get into law school, and I won’t get a job, and then I’ll be poor forever”
    • Many people worry like this over everything
How should we cope with anxiety?
  • It’s like managing your health – being healthy physically is about the right decisions day after day
    • With anxiety – you have to change the relationship with your thoughts, it’s not about pushing thoughts away (when you do this, the thoughts just get bigger, bigger, and bigger)
  • Kevin recommends really dissecting your thoughts – eventually you’ll come to realize they carry no weightTim Ferriss does this by journaling
  • Exposure Therapy
    • Gold standard treatment for anxiety
    • This helps people move towards things that are scary to them, and allows them realize that the potential threat, doesn’t actually exist
    • Example – if someone gets very anxious around dogs, the idea would be to get them around dogs until their body relaxes
    • For social anxiety, this might involve something as simple as going up to 10 people and asking for the time – doing this will allow you to see nothing bad really happens and the worst case scenarios you’re imagining are irrational
  • You need to focus on what you can control
    • Be present, only focus on what you have in front of you
How do you deal with anxious children?
  • Parents often feel bad that their kids are struggling/anxious. When they feel bad, they’re then working on managing their own internal feelings, by helping their kid, and it becomes less about the kid.
  • One sign of anxious kids – reassurance seeking (like asking the same question over and over)
  • Parents need to think – “What decisions are my kids making based on anxiety, and how am I accommodating those anxieties”
    • Accommodating those anxieties is not building their child’s resilience muscle, and will just maintain the anxiety over time
Podcast Notes’ Recommendations
  • Tim Ferris has recommended taking 5mg of Lithium Orotate per day to decrease anxious feelings
    • There’s some science behind this, check out this New York Times article
    • I’ve tried this myself and have noticed some benefit
  • Journal on your thoughts/feelings, this morning pages journal works perfect
  • Some people have found using NAC has been shown to reduce anxiety
  • Star gaze
    • Tim talks about this in Tools of Titans. When you look up, you might notice how infinitely small our worries/problems actually are, in the grand scheme of things.
    • One quote from the book stuck out for me – “But if you think about it, the stars are really far away, then you try to imagine the world from the stars. Then you sort of zoom in and you’re like, ‘Oh, there’s this tiny little character there for a fragment of time worrying about X.'”
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