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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Reducing Anxiety

Here are some thoughts on anxiety along with approaches to wash it out of your mind. Because anxiety can be a major trigger for most disregulated eaters, it’s vital that you learn to reduce anxiety, as less of it means less disregulated eating.

First, a concept mentioned by a Food and Feelings message board member whose therapist told her that FEAR equals Future Events Appearing Real. Although I’m not sure that’s what fear actually is, the acronym aptly describes anxiety. Anxiety happens internally, within your mind/body, generally having little or nothing to do with anything outside of that small space that you occupy on earth. When we’re anxious, we’re not in the present moment but are mentally in an anticipated one. Repeatedly determining what we’ll do in a future that seems more real than the present does no good. Why? Because we can only act in the present, and the fact that we can’t do now what we want to do later only makes us more anxious. Thus, anxiety breeds anxiety.

Second is how anxiety is reinforced by questions we ask ourselves and others about why things happen or, worse, why we’re anxious. Some questions have no answers. Most of the time we’re anxious, we don’t need to be because the anxiety isn’t about currently not being safe, but about a memory getting triggered when we weren’t safe. What I’m saying is that the “why” of anxiety often channels us into a dark tunnel. We think that if we keep asking ourselves why we’re anxious, we’ll have a eureka moment and feel okay. But the incessant questioning only sucks us more deeply into the tunnel.

Third, resist asking yourself a great many questions about your anxiety. Go find a real problem that you can solve now. Remember you can’t solve a problem that hasn’t happened yet. Sew a button, take out the overflowing trash, balance your checkbook, do something on your to do list, clean the kitchen floor, or change the oil in your car. These tasks address problems that can be dealt with now and doing them will siphon off the tension you’re experiencing as anxiety.

Wanting to lessen bodily tension is why you turn to food (or jump on the scale) when you’re anxious—because anxiety or, if you will, fear are emotions instructing us to do something to avoid a perceived mental or physical threat to self. When there is no real threat (when it’s only in your head), your mind/body focuses on anything as a threat, even if it isn’t one. So, to sum up, stop thinking about being anxious and decrease emotional tension by solving a problem that actually needs fixing now.

Body Variations
Musings on the Life Unlived

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy