How to Slow The Pace of Life

Beautiful tree at sunset vibrant orange with free copy space.

Have you noticed that we are transitioning from summer into fall? The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler. The hills are ablaze with red and gold. Yep. It’s Autumn and with that change of the season, the pace of life seems to quicken.

I’ve noticed more of my clients are reporting problems with anxiety now too. That’s pretty common as we head into the “holiday season”. I’m not trying to increase your level of anxiety by talking about all the hustle and bustle of gift-giving, big meal preparation, and parties. In fact, let me share a wonderful de-stressor shared with me recently by a friend. I hope you take a minute to read and enjoy:

Slow Me Down Lord

By Wilferd A. Pedersen

Slow me down, Lord!

Ease the pounding of my heart

By the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace

With a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give me,

Amidst the confusion of my day,

The calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves

With the soothing music of singing streams

That live in my memory.

Help me to know

The magical restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art

Of taking minute vacations of slowing down

To look at a flower;

To chat with an old friend or make a new one;

To pat a stray dog;

To watch a spider build a web;

To smile at a child;

Or read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day

That the race is not always to the swift;

That there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Let me look upward

Into the branches of the towering oak

And know that it grew great and strong

Because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord,

And inspire me to send my roots deep

Into the soil of life’s enduring values

That I may grow toward the stars

Of my greater destiny.

5 Easy Tips to Reduce Anxiety


“It is what it is,” stated Jane, a client I had begun seeing for serious anxiety that was largely the result of sexual abuse in her childhood. She had done a lot of work on her trauma but her anxiety persisted. We had been discussing how the effect of abuse from her childhood lingered. I had suggested that perhaps the abuse was unresolved for her. She was skeptical. “It is what it is”, was her way of saying that she didn’t believe there was anything she could do about something that had happened in the past. Though she was unhappy with the lingering effects, she had come to believe that she would always be effected by it.

I needed to challenge that belief. I explained to Jane that the brain is a remarkably plastic organ, capable of change over the entire lifespan. I told her how experiences and specific treatment techniques can help to alter brain structures, which then allow different emotional and cognitive reactions in life, including overcoming her anxiety. Jane was curious and eagerly listened as I described a few techniques.

If you experience anxiety or depression, consider adding the following techniques to your daily regimen. Over time, you may find some fairly dramatic changes in both your emotional states and the way you think.

Music-Most people are familiar with the idea of music helping to calm you in times of stress and energize you with a lively beat. Listening to music you like that complements your mood also reduces cortisol, which is a hormone that results when stress or anxiety persist for too long. Reducing cortisol also helps to shape more functional neural pathways in the brain.

Laughter and levity-Laughter and humor are another way to lower your Cortisol levels. In fact, smiling, even fake smiling, for as little as two minutes drops Cortisol measurably. So try to include joke telling, funny movies, or other ways of injecting humor into your life on a daily basis and watch the worry lines begin to disappear.

Social connectivity-Research published in the January 2013 journal Science reported on the effect of bullying on the brain of mice. Both Cortisol and Dopamine were impacted and the bullied mice began to avoid their peers, which led to further increased anxiety. Research on humans has also demonstrated the same downward spiral of social anxiety. It appears that those who continue to be involved with others despite feeling some social anxiety remain healthier and improve more quickly than those who give in to their fear and unease.

Regular physical activity-Most people know that physical activity is good for your heart and lungs. It is also good for your mental health. Regular physical activity is another way to reduce Cortisol and anxiety. Regular physical activity, especially outdoors has been found to be nearly as effective for treating depression as antidepressant medications.


You may have heard of the “fight or flight” response, which is responsible associated with stress in the first place. Physical activities such as kick boxing, tennis, baseball and other sports mimic the “fight” movements and burn-up Cortisol. Activities such as walking, running, swimming, or biking are excellent ways of using the same muscle groups involved in “flight” and again help your body to metabolize the hormone Cortisol. And don’t assume you need to spend hours at the gym either. As little as 10 minutes three times a day, or 30 minutes 2-3 times per week are sufficient to see big changes.

Mental relaxation- Some form of mental relaxation such as mindfulness, meditation, or guided imagery helps to slow your heart beat, relax your breathing, and lower Cortisol levels. Setting aside as little as 10-15 minutes a day for these practices trains your body and mind in calmness and reduces Cortisol.

One of my favorite meditations is Loving-Kindness-Meditation (LKM). It is an especially easy form of meditation in which you sit or rest quietly and systematically send loving and compassionate thoughts to 1) family and friends, 2) a person with whom you are in conflict, 3) all people throughout the world who are struggling, and 4) compassion, love, and forgiveness to yourself. As you see, the process is very simple. I like to play some calming music while I do the meditation.

After I had given Jane a clear picture of what to expect, she was ready to try out the meditation with music. I helped her to settle comfortably and become aware of her breathing and the position of her body. I led her through noticing all the places her body was supported. I could see her body respond as she moved through all four parts of the meditation and when she opened her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, “Wow! I feel great!” Over the next couple of weeks, Jane practiced the LKM with music every day and at our next appointment she reported feeling very different, calmer, less stressed. And she was sleeping better too.

These techniques don’t fix all the symptoms associated with issues from the past or the present but regularly practicing them can begin to rewire your brain to reduce anxiety and decrease Cortisol, which will help your body as well as your mental health, and increase your sense of optimism and confidence. That’s a pretty big pay-off for such a small investment.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: An Anxiety Disorder

Close-up of young melancholy sobbing woman

 Mei Khimme came to see me because her obsessive compulsive behaviors, constantly rearranging her closets, pantry, and furniture, had become the focus of conflict between herself and her husband.

Mei explained, “Once I get my husband off to work and the kids out the door for school, my daily schedule is set. I begin in the kitchen, rearranging all of the cupboards, but especially the spice rack and my dishes and cook ware. When I finish there, I reorder everything in the bathroom. Fortunately, our bathroom is fairly small. Next are the bedroom closets and the drawers in all dressers. I want everything in its perfect place, so we’ll have more time to spend together as a family.” Mei said she spent at least 5 hours every day rearranging her already well-ordered home.

I asked Mei how her family responded to the constantly changing environment. Mei said, her kids were usually uncomplaining about the changes but her husband had been making unkind comments about it for about three months and his comments had now become quiet harsh, leading them to argue. She said she was now having sleep problems and had started rearranging the furniture in the front room too. Her husband had put this foot down and insisted she get some help.

 Mei agreed that her arranging and ordering compulsion was excessive. She further stated that not only did it not help her family spend more time together but they were all handling their feelings by spending time with outside friends. It was just the opposite of her intention.

 A short review of Mei’s marriage revealed the point when Mei had become fixated on ordering as a way to gain control over her anxious feelings. In the second year of her marriage, her husband’s Mother had come to visit and stayed with the young couple for two weeks. Mei said her Mother-in-law was a stern, stand-offish woman of nearly 6 feet in height. She rearranged the cupboards in Mei’s home every day of her visit, telling her that if she didn’t learn to get her house in order her husband would find a more organized woman to marry. By the end of the visit, Mei was totally frazzled.

Two hours after her Mother-in-law had driven away Mei and her husband had “the biggest fight of our married life.” Soon Mei began to notice her husband’s comments about how well things had been reordered by his Mom. It didn’t take long for Mei to begin trying to please her husband by arranging things differently. At first it was just a few things occasionally, but like many compulsive behaviors, as stresses increased the behaviors increased as well.

 Now Mei’s life revolved around the activities of ordering and rearranging. And her family was tired of the constant unnecessary changes.

 OCD is Born of Anxiety

 OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, manifests in many different ways, but always it is a thief that steals your time, energy, relationships, and sometimes much more.

 It is generally accepted that OCD is an anxiety disorder, an attempt to stave off anxiety associated with not doing the behavior. It may present as mild, hardly noticeable, moderate, or severe and even at times life threatening.

While many people make statements such as, “I’m so OCD,” about certain preferences, OCD is actually a very emotionally challenging disorder. It may be very challenging to treat as well, occasionally requiring medication.

 Treating OCD With Hypnosis


Portrait of crying girl during visit in psychiatrist office

 One form of therapy used to successfully treat OCD is hypnosis. OCD isn’t a disorder of thought. Most people with OCD know that their behavior is excessive, whether it is checking to be sure the stove is turned off after use, counting, hand washing 100 times a day, or other OCD behaviors. If thinking were enough, very few people, indeed, would be controlled by the anxiety and fear that drives the behaviors.

OCD behaviors are a way to cope with fear and anxiety, which come from the subconscious and that is where hypnosis does its work. Perhaps you’ve heard the tale of the man who was looking for something under a street light in the dark of night.

             “What are you searching for?” asked a passing stranger.

            “I’ve lost my keys,” replied the man.

            “Where did you lose them?” asked the stranger.

            “In my house.”

            “Then why are you out here looking in the street?”

            “Because there’s more light to see by under the streetlamp!”

 Trying to solve the problem of OCD with the cognitive abilities of the conscious mind, when the problem originates and is maintained by the subconscious, is like the man looking in the wrong place simply because the light is better. While there are other methods to treat OCD, hypnosis helps you create genuine change in the feelings that drive the problem behaviors.

 Hypnosis is also a great way to help the central nervous system calm itself. Relaxation allows a person to reduce or eliminate fear and anxiety. With fear and anxiety gone, there is no purpose to or need for the compulsive behavior.

 There are many other reasons why hypnosis a great way to successfully treat OCD but these two are a good place to start. If you suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or know someone who does, call for an appointment. Begin your journey to peace today.



Social Anxiety: Fear From Our Past

Lack of confidence. Shy young handsome man feels awkward isolated on grey wall background. Human emotion body language life perception

Jim is a shy man of 27. He is slender and always dressed in casual jeans and a tee-shirt. A soft spoken man with a delightful sense of humor, he always starts off our sessions by asking me sincerely how I am doing. Jim has come to see me because he has no friends, struggles to join in conversation with others, works at a job that is rather isolating, and sees no way to change his life. But Jim isn’t just shy; he has Social Anxiety.

From his paperwork, I discovered that Jim has always been a rather solitary figure, who barely finished high school. He described his experience with people: He fears that someone will ask him a question and all eyes will turn to him in expectation and find… NOTHING. Jim enjoys being around people but he doesn’t know how to join in a conversation. He has never asked a girl on a date, rarely spends time with friends, and panics at the idea of going into a store or library. He struggles even to talk with his boss at work about his responsibilities. Circumstances like these are common to many people with social anxiety.

Some people with social anxiety become anxious any time they are with others, some suffer when in groups, and others only when they go to specific places, but the over-riding issue for people with social anxiety is a fear of being observed and judge; that is, a fear of rejection. There’s a good reason for this fear.

The Purpose of Social Anxiety

For early man, safety was found in being part of a group–the tribe. Having no tribe could mean fending off large predators alone and that could spell death. No wonder we developed a deep need to belong to the group. We evolved to “fit in” and when we feel like we do not it causes fear or anxiety.

Fear is meant to focus our attention just like a convex lens focuses light into a bright spot. However, just as that magnifying lens can cause a light so bright (hot) that it causes fire, so too much fear can overwhelm and cause us to act in such a way that we lose the very thing we fear losing. We call this a self-fulfilling prophesy.

A socially anxious person feels so threatened that he acts in a way that makes others feel uncomfortable. He may struggle with making appropriate eye contact, or not contributing in a conversation, or never having an opinion. This appears unfriendly to others and they may exclude the awkward person. This is the very result he feared and was trying to avoid.

Happy group of students with thumbs up

Healing Social Anxiety

It all starts with feelings and that’s where the solution to the problem lies, in the emotions.  One of the best ways to restore social comfort or confidence is with hypnosis, a process that works in the subconscious mind where emotions are located. By working on the emotion of fear, while in hypnotic trance, you can learn to calmly approach anxious situations while remaining in a deeply focused and highly relaxed state. With some consistent effort the body and mind learn to associate the calm relaxation, instead of fear, with the situation.

Social anxiety can be devastating to the person experiencing it. It leaves a person socially isolated and lonely. It can erode self-esteem and short-circuit relationships but social anxiety is treatable. If you suffer with symptoms of social anxiety call for an appointment today. Don’t suffer a minute more.


Stop Phobia In Its Tracks

Frightened girl over isolated white background

In this continuing series on Anxiety Disorders, we’ve talked about general anxiety, negative imagination, and worry. Now let’s talk about phobia.

What Is Phobia?

A phobia is an excessive, persistent fear of a situation, activity, or thing that makes you want to avoid it. It is a based on a survival tool called pattern matching where the brain is able to associate one dangerous thing with another to save time in choosing safety. Phobia ranges from fairly mild and humorous to severe and debilitating.

Some conservative estimates indicate that more than 6 million Americans suffer with phobia. People who experience phobia often also experience other anxiety issues such as panic disorder, PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or others.

All Shapes And Sizes

There are many varieties of phobia. Some experts say there are as many phobias as there are situations. So what does it look like to have a phobia. The following is one woman’s experience of phobia:

Marci walked into the office with moist eyes. Even before she sat on the couch her tears were streaming down her cheeks. Handing her a tissue, I said, “Tell me what’s going on.”

“I’m a terrible mother!” Marci cried. The words then tumbled out in a torrent, a story of her son’s 3rd birthday party where a close friend had brought balloons and a beautiful cake for little Jason.

The party was held poolside in Marci’s back yard. Marci’s friend and neighbor walked through the living room, out the patio door and onto the pool deck balancing the cake in one hand and holding balloons in the other. Jason was so excited that he ran laughing to his mother to tell her that he had a cake.

Marci turned around and saw her friend coming toward her. What happened next took everyone by surprise. She began to shriek “like a crazy person”, threw her hands up in front of her face, thrashing, and pushed the cake out of her friend’s hands and into the pool. Marci then ran into the house and sat trembling and rocking on the couch in the front room.

Marci’s friend got Jason and the other party guests settled playing a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. She then went in to check on Marci. Marci was cowering in a corner of the couch, rocking. Slowly sitting down near her friend, she said softly, “Marci, what just happened?”

Marci looked up from telling her story, and as her soft brown eyes met mine, she said in a whisper, “I don’t know what happened? I can’t stand…. balloons. I’m afraid of…balloons. They scare the crap out of me. Not just a little. They terrify me. What’s the matter with me?”

The more I learned of Marci’s history the more convinced I was that she suffered with globophobia, or fear of balloons. I learned that Marci had been afraid of balloons since she was a pre-teen. Over time she had developed panic symptoms (racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, etc.) when around balloons or if she believed she was going to be near balloons. Other than her phobia, she had very few other anxiety symptoms.

Coping With Phobia

Marci had learned to cope with her phobia by avoiding anything, and everything, associated with balloons, such as children’s parties. She had trained her family members to help run interference for her by having them check out certain venues where balloons might be, such as the Labour & Delivery unit at the hospital when Jason was born. Marci struggled to discuss balloons but unlike some people who suffer with this phobia, at least she was able to say the word without developing panic. Yet it clearly made her very uncomfortable to talk about it.

Highly Treatable

Alert woman sitting with her therapist talking to her in a private session

We used hypnotherapy to break-up Marci’s globophobia. That gave her immediate relief. Then some cognitive-behavioral therapy helped her to change the thinking patterns that had grown her fear and kept it alive in her imagination. Marci chose to pursue the source of her phobia in therapy but many people have no desire to know where the phobia comes from. And it isn’t always necessary to know that in order to let go of the phobia.

Phobia is just one more place where anxiety shows up in life. For those who experience phobias it can feel like they are being controlled by unreasonable forces. Many people feel a great deal of shame when they cannot force themselves to ignore the anxiety and panic that arise from their phobia.

Phobias are another example of sloppy pattern matching, a survival tool gone wrong. But phobias don’t have to rule your life. If you struggle with a phobia, call today to take back the control.

            Call 801-494-7612

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Anxiety: The Fuel of Dreams

Beautiful girl sleeps in the bedroom .

Have you ever awakened from an intense dream and wondered, “Now what does that mean?” People have wondered about the meaning of their dreams for thousands of years. A quick Google search of “dream interpretation” shows more than 25 million entries and in many book stores, the shelves groan under the weight of the many dream dictionaries and interpretation guides.

We are all fascinated by the possible meaning behind our nightly adventures, at least those of us who remember some or all of our dreams are. Many people have little to no recall of their dreams, while others bring fragments or whole stories into the waking world. Regardless whether you remember your dreams clearly or not at all, be assured that you do dream. Simply put, dreaming is required for mental and physical health. So why do we dream?

Why Do We Dream?

Recent research, using ƒMRIs and PET scans of the human brain, has begun to shine a light on the purpose and procedure of dreaming. Dreaming is the brain’s way of discharging emotions during sleep, which you have been unable to deal with while awake. For example, if you have an angry yelling match with your neighbor because his dog has dug up your prized Begonias for the 4th time you probably won’t have a dream related to this emotional situation. You already dealt with the emotion (however inappropriately).

warrior and a dragon

However, when your Mom tells the world on Facebook how you forgot her birthday, your brain is likely to create a dream scenario that mirrors this issue in a metaphor that releases the energy of your pent-up emotion. Battling a huge dark monster fills in for the unresolved emotions left unexpressed in your waking experience. You awaken refreshed and forget the dream instantly as the emotion is now discharged.

Rumination (chronic worry) while we are awake is one of the most common ways we create unexpressed emotional arousal that needs to be discharged in dreams. Worry or rumination is generally future focused and mostly takes place in our thoughts, where it is much harder to resolve. If you are unable to resolve the issues that cause you endless worrying, the chances are high that your dreams will be intense, frequent and exhausting.

Too Much Dreaming Can Harm Your Health

The work that is done by the brain in sleep takes as much or more energy as the problem you worried about. This is where dreaming can indicate a waking problem that needs your attention, because the energy expenditure of dreaming can leave you tired even after a good night’s rest. This early morning fatigue may indicate the start of a downward spiral of anxiety and depression.

If you find yourself deeply tired upon awakening and the fatigue lifts as your day goes on, it’s time to take a close look at how you are managing your stress, and how you solve the emotional issues that come up for you on a daily basis. Even if you don’t remember your dreams, there is a good chance that “over-dreaming” is the source of the fatigue and unresolved emotion is the source of the over-dreaming.

Learn Daily Coping to Sleep Well

Learning coping skills to bring emotional issues to conclusion will ease the load on your brain each night. Increasing the depth of your relaxation through exercise, healthy eating, and self-hypnosis or meditation can also help to discharge the emotions before they provoke extra dreams that rob your body of the rest it needs.

A good night’s sleep is Mother Nature’s best medicine and dreams are the way a healthy brain deals with the stored emotional charges that linger from a normal day. If sleep and your dreams have left you dragging early in the day, call for an appointment. Learning relaxation is easy and fast and one of the best ways you can secure a good night’s sleep!

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Make Worry Your Friend

Worried Concerned or Thinking Deeply

Too much worry makes you feel like things are “spinning in circles”. It can make you sick. You feel like you have no control. This kind of worry can result in physical symptoms like increased blood pressure, poor sleep and fatigue, and even lowered sex drive. That certainly sounds like something you want to avoid, right? Actually, while too much worry can wreak havoc on the human body and mind, some worry is helpful to a fully functional life.

Why We Worry

Worry is fundamental to our survival, from primitive man to modern man. Worry was how we thought about our past experiences plus our present needs, and used that to plan for the future. We worried to avoid predators, to execute planting and harvesting crops to carry through winter, to making today’s tax preparation or putting aside enough for retirement. In this form, worry is a basic strength of human beings. The trick is learning how to worry well.

writing words ' STOP WORRYING ' on gradient background made in 2d software

How To Worry Well

Worrying well is all about planning. For one thing, don’t let worry take you by surprise when you are hungry, anxious, experiencing a low mood, or tired. Your thinking isn’t at its clearest at these times. (An acronym to help you remember what to avoid is HALT.)

Limit the amount of time you let yourself worry. Some people set an appointment with their worry, say 30 minutes early in the day after they’ve had breakfast or done some exercise. When a worrisome thought comes up outside of your appointment time, write it down. Putting worries down on paper makes them concrete and allows you to be more objective in how to handle them. And finally consider the following template for each of your worries:

  • I am worried about…
  • The worst that could happen is…
  • The best that could happen is…
  • This is what I can do now…
  • I should also remember this…

If, after you’ve followed this plan, you find yourself dwelling on the worry with no resolution, you may need to take a break from that particular issue. Set it aside for a few days and spend that time calming yourself with extra self-care: nutritious meals, plenty of sleep and exercise, and some additional relaxation exercises. When you are ready to take another look at the issue, you may have an improved perspective.

Remember that becoming too emotionally involved in worry gives power to the problem, which tends to snowball. Chronic worry leads to feelings of helplessness. Consider the difference between what is possible and what is probable based on your previous experiences.

Make A Friend of Worry

Whether you worry over your kids, your job, your relationships, or other things, worry is only helpful if you control it. Try the above tips to control worry and take back your peace of mind. Make a friend of your worry and learn to save time, energy, and pain. Worry effectively today to find a brighter tomorrow.

If worry is wearing you down or doesn’t respond to the tips in this article, call for an appointment. You don’t have to let worry control your life.

           Call 801-494-7612

How Imagination Causes Anxiety

Worry word cloud on a white background.

Do you use your imagination to be happy or to increase your anxiety? You might ask yourself, “what does imagination have to do with either happiness or anxiety?” Good question. Let’s take a look.

In children, we expect imagination to show up as play, daydreaming, or even “invisible friends”. We assume that in adulthood, imagination has changed to something far more sophisticated, like the ability of invention. While that is certainly true, it limits our thinking about the ways imagination is used every day by most people.

Imagination For Survival

Imagination developed so that we can project into the future and make plans. At its simplest, imagination allows us to take the lesson of one threatening experience and consider how it might come up again tomorrow, next week, or next year. In this way, we can make plans to avoid the same painful thing happening again. So if I am in a car accident while turning left at a four-way stop light, I can imagine how to avoid a repeat of the accident. I imagine and plan to enter the intersection much more cautiously, watching the traffic for any sign that others are not paying attention. This thinking makes me feel nervous each time I come to an intersection.

The downside of using imagination this way is imagining things going wrong excessively– thus creating excess anxiety. Anxiety is imagination run wild.

Intense or frequent misuse of imagination leads to worry, a chronic low grade anxiety and this can become a habit. Repeated worry tends to increase fear until you see upcoming events as catastrophes. That’s how using your imagination can lead to increased anxiety.

Imagination For Happiness


One way to use your imagination for survival and increase happiness, is to get yourself into a calm and relaxed state and then imagine the event with the outcome you want. So the next time you anticipate having a painful or difficult conversation with a friend, family member or, perhaps, your boss, take the time to rehearse the future event in a safe way, while remaining calm. Hypnosis is a great tool to do this.

There are many solutions to deal with worry but at the heart of them all is the need to calm your central nervous system. We’ll discuss some solutions to end anxious and worry in the next segment.

In the meantime, when you’ve had enough of anxiety and worrying too much, make an appointment to learn how to let go of worry. Learn to use your imagination to create a happy future.

                  Call me at 801-494-7612

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Anxiety Is Good For You

Mysterious forest

It may seem a strange thing to say that anxiety is good for you, but without some anxiety we would accomplish very little. Remember that anxiety is a stimulus, an urge to change something. A little anxiety may cause you to study for your driving test or go see your doctor once in a while. It is only when anxiety becomes excessive for the situation that it is a problem.

The Evolution of Anxiety

Anxiety is part of our evolutionary development and its purpose, to keep us safe, is the most efficient way possible. Let me illustrate.

One day Mrs. Neanderthal was out gathering wood to build a cooking fire. As she searched through the brush and trees in the nearby forest, her arms grew heavy with small branches and twigs. She reached for one last piece wood in the low brush when all of a sudden something long and thin sprang up and bit her arm. She dropped all of her wood, shrieked, and ran for the safety of her warm cave.

In the firelight of the cave, the tribe’s medicine man looked at the two small punctures on her arm and gently applied herbs and moss to the swelling wound. Mrs. Neanderthal was carefully tucked into a bed of warm animal skins and the tribe began to dance and chant around the fire, hoping to summon the healing powers of the spirit world.

Mrs. Neanderthal became quite ill and suffered much pain but before too long the fevers left and the wound healed. Soon she was able to return to her usual life in the tribe. She even returned to her duties of collecting firewood.

On a sunny spring day, she headed once more into the forest to collect more wood. As she reached for a small branch, the wind came up and the low brush and trees began to sway. A shadow from the trees flashed in the corner of her eye as she reached for a branch on the ground. Suddenly Mrs. Neanderthal threw her bundle of wood to the ground, her heart racing, her breathing caught in her throat. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead and her hands became wet. Looking around in terror, Mrs. Neanderthal ran from the forest in a blind panic. When she reached her cave, she fell to the ground by the campfire. When she caught her breath, she tried to explain to the tribesmen who had gathered around her what had just happened but her mind was in a fog.

Nothing had attacked her. She had no wounds. She also had no firewood. What she did have was a great feeling of confusion and a dread that they would ask her to collect more firewood. From that day on, Mrs. Neanderthal felt panicked every time she thought about collecting wood or going into the forest. Even to cool off in the forest in the heat of summer was impossible.

To ensure her survival, Mrs. Neanderthal’s primitive brain had associated the moving shadow with the moving snake. In sloppy fashion, it had associated collecting firewood as well as the forest with her fear, pain, and sickness from the snake bite experience.

Our modern brain has developed the ability to analyze and make decisions based on ever changing information, but we are still hard wired for survival. Our brain often recognizes patterns in sloppy fashion. We feel the anxiety that is meant to keep us alive in situations that are not life threatening. In terms of survival, this is a case of better safe than sorry.


In today’s world, some one sitting in a business meeting, who is unexpectedly called upon to speak to the group may find her mouth suddenly dry, her throat constricted, and her chest tight. Despite finding it difficult to breath, she may be able to convey the material needed in the moment but from that time on, any time she is approached by someone she doesn’t know, she again finds herself in panic mode. She learns to avoid all meetings. Soon, she can barely bring herself to go to work. And in worst case scenario, she becomes house-bound with agoraphobia. The fear-based learning (anxiety) is self-reinforcing without treatment.

The good news is that anything which is learned can be un-learned and replaced with healthier ways of acting and re-acting. Anxiety is the 3rd most common psychiatric illness, just behind alcoholism and depression, but it is very treatable.

You don’t have to suffer from anxiety, excessive worry, or symptoms of panic. Call today to start taking back peace and control in your life.

                  Call 801-494-7612 for an appointment

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Anxiety In Modern Times

Anxiety word cloud concept with abstract background

Let’s talk about ANXIETY. It may be said that anxiety is the result of stress and virtually everybody experiences stress to some degree. In the most general sense, stress is, in fact, a normal part of life. Stress, simply put, is the pressure to act. Without some stress, there is no reason to get out of bed in the morning, go to school or get a job, or have a relationship. Stress is a necessity of normal everyday living…unless it becomes too intense, lasts too long, or has no resolution.

Stress Kills

“Stress” has become a modern catch-all. It can make you sick, cause depression or result in depression, bring on a heart attack or ulcer. Stress can even decrease your sex drive, ruin your memory, and damage your relationships. Sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? When stress has reached the level where it can have these impacts, it is definitely a collection of symptoms we refer to as anxiety.

The Purpose of Anxiety

When we take a closer look at anxiety, it is a straight forward physical process of the body and mind getting ready to act for survival. You probably know the common phrase used to describe such a situation: “Fight or flight”. The muscles tense, breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, the heartbeat quickens. For some, thinking becomes more difficult, memory is impaired, legs or hands may shake, and some even experience nausea. All of these symptoms, and others not mentioned, are in response to the perceived need for defense.

Changes in heart rate and breathing allow more blood and oxygen to be sent to the muscles for rapid action. Analytical thinking is NOT needed if survival depends on swift action, and nausea, which could lead to vomiting is the body’s way of lightening its load and making the person less appealing to a would-be predator. All these symptoms are the result of thousands of years of humans being at the mercy of predators larger than us, equipped with sharp fangs and claws.

An Out-dated Over-reaction

Businessman scared and coward runs off quickly

While anxiety was useful to keep you on your toes in a primitive and dangerous environment, it can cause problems for modern man (and woman). Anxiety is still useful when you find yourself in unknown circumstances but our modern brain tends to over-react when, for example, the boss asks to see you. When your honey says, “We need to talk,” it only FEELS life-threatening.

So the goal isn’t to be rid of all anxiety. After all, a little anxiety can spur you to prepare a really outstanding business presentation, ask your boss for a raise, make the effort to learn a new sport, or ask the one you love to spend eternity with you.

Since we clearly need some anxiety but too much is, simply that, too much, the goal should be learning to tap into the useful amount and limit or prevent the damaging amount (or type).

Next time we’ll talk about the different types of anxiety, or the several different ways excess anxiety can complicate and compromise everyday living. Join me on this journey. If you recognize the symptoms of excess anxiety in your life and you are ready to regain control

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