Managing Anxiety in Times of Uncertainty

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Kevin Wallace 0:11 Hello, and welcome to The Good Ahead Podcast where we host conversations in the areas of mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. I'm your host Kevin Wallace with New Vista. In today's episode, you'll hear from Tiffany Arrows, the regional director of specialty and outreach services, exploring the world of anxiety and how to manage it. Anxiety is a shared human experience. In one way or another, we all face anxiety in our lives. But anxiety isn't actually all bad. Though it's largely seen as a negative emotion, we can learn to use it to see positive outcomes. You'll learn today how to take steps in managing anxiety, and learn how to use it to your advantage. So we're glad you're here with us and hope that you enjoy. Welcome in. Today, we have a very exciting episode ahead, talking about anxiety. And today we have with us Tiffany Arrows, the regional director of specialty and outreach services with New Vista. So welcome, Tiffany.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 1:24 Thank you for having me.

Kevin Wallace 1:25 To open the conversation up about anxiety, we're gonna talk about what it is, how to manage it, and in what we can do to take steps to manage it, to use it to our advantage and just talk about the whole world of what anxiety is. So let's start out by doing what we usually do each episode is defining what we're talking about. So let's define anxiety. What is anxiety?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 1:53 Sure. Well, you know, we all have anxiety, this is one part of the Mental Health conversation that I think everyone has something to relate to, everyone can certainly bring something away from this. Anxiety is a normal part of the human experience, and thank goodness that it is because anxiety helps motivate us towards things that are beneficial. Anxiety helps thwart our tests away from things that maybe are not beneficial. It serves a valuable purpose in our life. And I don't want to take that away and leave people thinking, Oh, anxiety is just this horrible, bad thing. Sometimes, right, but not always, right? So anxiety, when you feel it, there are feelings of dread, worry, sometimes fear is a good way to put it. You know, those kind of feelings and they can be, they can come and go. Or for some people, they really sit and stay and begin to direct your life in ways that are not healthy. And so I think that's when we look at, maybe there's something we should do about the anxiety.

Kevin Wallace 3:03 Yeah, that's so good. And it's it's like a necessary part of the human experience. Right? Yeah. So this is something that you don't necessarily need to avoid, you can invite into your life and learn how to use it to your advantage. So what are some of the factors that influence anxiety in this in this everyday human experience that we're in? What are some things that that influence and trigger anxiety?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 3:33 Sure, you know, almost almost anything can. And I think if you want to get into the cognitive pieces of you know, why anxiety is there, where it's really, your mind is focused on the future and future orientation, and you're either hoping for something, or you're trying to avoid something they're dreading, right. And that's where you get into this anxiety, really kind of thinking that all these anxious thoughts can control an outcome, and it really can't. But if you're looking at more concrete things that feed into anxiety, it can be relationships, stressors at work, social interactions that you have with friends or folks at school, you know, different settings like this. financial concerns, or any kind of concern and really trigger anxiety, and the way we handle it, sometimes, you know, some of it's just personal temperament. We're all a little bit different. And we all handle life stressors a little differently. Yeah. And there's genetic components that go into that as well. And environmental components go into that as well. Yeah.

Kevin Wallace 4:43 Cool. And the thing that comes to mind is fear really plays into this. So and when I think about fear, it's it's something that if there if there's something that happened to me in my past, I could fear that happening again, and it being projected into the future. So going back to what you're talking about of, of having anxiety for things to come in the future or things you want to avoid, right, let's talk about that a little bit how fear plays into this triggering of anxiety for future things.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 5:19 Sure. And that's really where a lot of us kind of get in the trouble zone. Yeah. When we take certain assumptions that we might have, based upon past experiences, and we really put that into what we're currently experiencing, or we predict it from happening. For example, if you if you know, if you were a kid in school, and you were shy, or you had a difficult time making friends, or perhaps you were teased in school, you may feel as though Well, I'm not likable, I'm not lovable. People are talking about me, people might not like me. And that may be the way you approach your life. And you have these assumptions. And that's what you're thinking and perceiving. And so that begins to frame how you perceive a lot of experiences. And that can just create cycles of anxiety, and that does become more problematic.

Kevin Wallace 6:08 And that can be crippling for a lot of people.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 6:10 It can.

Kevin Wallace 6:11 What are some different, I guess, I don't know, labels that you would put on the anxiety and how people experience it.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 6:20 Sure. Clinically, there are different diagnoses that that come into play with anxiety. And they include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, phobia related disorders, social anxiety, agoraphobia, separation anxiety, and they're really just kind of specialized areas of anxiety.

Kevin Wallace 6:43 Okay. And how how can somebody identified if you've fallen under any of those camps, those labels?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 6:53 Well, they each have separate diagnostic criteria to meet those, those different diagnoses. But in general, if you're struggling with anxiety, for the greater portion of a day, most days, for a prolonged time, like weeks, months on end, I mean, if this is the regular experience that you're having throughout life, that might be a good time to talk to a counselor, because there might be underlying factors that are playing into this anxiety. And it might be at a clinical level. Yeah. Things like, you know, phobias, I think are, we understand what that is and that's a very specific fear to a very specific trigger, event, you know, object, situation, that sort of thing. But if it's just, you know, you're you're generally just struggling with anxiety nearly every day, that might be the time where you need to reach out to a counselor and a professional and maybe get some help with that. It's very treatable. Anxiety disorders are very treatable with counseling. Yeah. And there's, you know, medications that can help as well. But this is certainly something that no one needs to suffer with long term. Yes, this can be worked through.

Kevin Wallace 8:03 Yeah. And we'll we'll get into how to manage anxiety a little bit, and how counseling can play into that and in a little bit, so why, let's talk about why anxiety is necessary. How, how does it create an awareness for, for necessity in our lives?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 8:24 First of all, let's just talk about the experience of we have a negative emotion and therefore that emotion is bad. Yeah. Right. And we need to get rid of that emotion and make it go away. Yeah, that creates a bigger problem.

Kevin Wallace 8:35 Yeah. And that's, that's kind of a part of the conversation in society; pain is is bad, and you you need to keep pain away. But it's, it's just a part of life, right? You can't, you can't avoid negative things your whole life. And so we have to learn how to live with things that are negative, like negative emotions, like you're talking about. So like, it's a good point of knowing that. It's this is we're just here to encourage you that you're not always going to experience positive things in life, but you can learn how to deal with the negative emotions in life. So, yes, and that negative emotion emotions is not always something that you're going to be able to avoid, right, but you can invite them.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 9:28 Right, and you know, and there are techniques and we will get into some of the techniques but there are techniques to learn to sit with the negative emotion and I know, that sounds counterintuitive, and I know you're thinking here a counselor, you're supposed to help us get rid of this. Yes. However, sometimes that means learning to accept and learning to have some tolerance for the diversity of experiences you will have in this life. And some of them are not always the smiles and the giggles some of them are are The concern, you know, the hurt and the pain, of experience, right of things that come at you. And learning to embrace that, and have that be a part of your life is also a beautiful thing because you grow through it. Right? So, when we talk about, you know, why is anxiety important? And how does it help us? Well, let's think. So, if you go back to when you were a kiddo, right, and you have the spelling tests on Fridays, do they still do that? I don't know. spelling tests on Friday did when I was a kid. When I was a kid. Were you a little nervous? Oh, yeah. Yeah, of course. And so what did you do? Studied? Right? So you were studying, and maybe your mom or your dad would would, you know, recite the words and you would be here spelling out the words, and you would write them on your paper? And you would try real hard? And you would learn so that when you got to the test, you would do well? Yeah. Right. And so that's an example of that anxiety, really pushed you and motivated you to have a positive outcome there. And in life, there's a lot of that, right? We have a little bit of anxiety about making our finances work out. Why because we want to be successful. We want to be able to pay our bills and have a nice life and have a nice home and afford the things we want to afford. So does that anxiety help push you and motivate you in a positive direction? Absolutely. Right. Now, it gets to the point where your anxiety is so bad that you can't go to work and you can't function. Well. Now we need to talk about that. Yeah. But anxiety can be a motivating factor in that way, and really push you to achieve things that you want to achieve. So there's an energy balance with it. On the other side of the coin, it also helps warn you against things of hmm, maybe that's not a good idea, right? If you're anxious, when you know, maybe you're driving your car a little too fast, it reminds you Hey, woof, I should slow down, you know, I should be more careful. And so it really helps balance out how we approach life. And that's a survival strategy. Right, a survival technique that we all have. Thank goodness. Yes. So it's necessary to be here. Yeah. And experience it.

Kevin Wallace 12:20 Yeah. And, and like you said, it's, it's all about finding the balance of how can I use this to my advantage? How is this pushing me towards positive outcomes, as opposed to becoming overbearing, and something that is actually weighing me down? And in not enabling me to, to go about life in a healthy way? Right. And so how can we find that balance? You mentioned some techniques that we'll talk about? So let's, let's get into some techniques of how can you when anxiety does come? How can you use anxiety, to push you towards positive outcomes, as opposed to it becoming an overbearing thing that weighs you down?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 13:04 Sure. I think the first thing that would help with the anxiety struggle is to learn to make friends with it a little bit so that you aren't in a position where you're pushing it away, or trying to shove it away. Because we don't want to use the techniques to stop feeling what we're feeling, but rather to channel it in a better healthy way. Right? So the first thing we want to do is learn to sit with our anxiety. And so if just the experience of having anxiety is overwhelming, then let's try this technique first. And it's it you know, these are more mindfulness type practices, when you're learning to sit with with negative feelings. Because when you're when you're feeling as though you should not have a feeling that now you have secondary anxiety on top of it anxiety about your anxiety. Yeah, that's not where you want to be yet.

Kevin Wallace 13:56 Exactly. Is that what let's define secondary anxiety, right? But so that's just anxiety on top of the anxiety that you're experiencing, right?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 14:04 So you have a negative self appraisal that well, I'm having anxiety. So I'm an anxious person, there's something wrong with me, oh, my goodness, I have an illness, I need to go get help right now, this is wrong for me to feel this way. It might not be wrong for you to feel this way. Maybe there's a legitimate reason you are feeling this way. And let's take a minute to feel it. That's good. You know, so that secondary anxiety is exactly that it's you feel negative about the experience that you're having. And maybe, let's give a pause there. Right and reevaluate. So the first thing that we need to do is to be able to tolerate and soothe anxiety, and you can use some mindfulness type approaches for that. So let's talk about what mindfulness means. Yeah. Define it in our few minutes that we have. So I do suggest if you don't know much about mindfulness, look into it because mindfulness is super effective for many, many things for our mental health. And regular mindfulness practice is just good on many levels. I mean, we could we could talk for a long time about that, right? Not only for anxiety, but for depression, for attention for all kinds of things. Yeah. But what mindfulness, what you're going to want to do with your mindfulness practices to make sure that you're staying in present moment, remember, just a few moments ago, we talked about so much of anxiety is, you have in your mind, yeah, constantly worried about the future, right? Either trying to predict or prevent or worry about. So what you want to do in mindfulness is staying present moment. And a lot of people use, you know, meditative type practices for mindfulness. And you can do that. There are all kinds of apps out there that you can use for this, you can YouTube, these kinds of thing, you know, mindfulness meditation, and you can practice that way. But really, the idea is to stay in present moment. And you will find when you're trying to do this, that your mind has a lot of pop up windows, so to speak, that pop up while you're trying to stay in present moment. You're you're breathing in, and you're holding it and you're breathing out and you're getting that really good diaphragmatic breathing. And then all of a sudden, your mind goes What are you making for dinner? Yeah,

Kevin Wallace 16:14 and there's that task that I need to do. And I try not to think about it. But there it is. And

Tiffany Arrows-Price 16:19 Oh, yeah, you know, what are my kids doing right now? Oh, my goodness, did I pay this bill? You're not gonna want that, right. So when you notice that your mind is wandering, bring it back to present moment, bring it back to present moment, non judgmental, you're not bad at this. You're not a bad person. There's nothing wrong with your brain. This is just what your brain is used to doing to bring it back to present moment. And sometimes it's you know, there's all different types of mindfulness. But you can, if you can focus on maybe body, how your body is feeling right now, in present moment, breathe in, breathe out. How does that feel for my body right now? And then allow yourself to feel that anxiety? Yeah, but stay in present moment. Yeah, don't chase it. Don't overanalyze what that feeling is or what that thought is, or why you're feeling anxious about it. Bring it back to present moment, you know, and allow yourself to just feel that for a while, with a mindfulness practice is very helpful. Yeah. Cool. So that's the first thing that I would recommend is building in some mindfulness and allowing yourself to experience some of those negative thoughts in present moment while you're while you're participating

Kevin Wallace 17:31 Bringing yourself to the moment without having to project what's what's going on in the future. And because let's be honest, we don't even know what the future holds. So, yeah, that is that so important learning to live into the present moment. And mindfulness sounds like a really great exercise to bring you into that space, you can bring yourself to the present moment, realize that this is all we have right now. And what can't come what may, you can deal with it when it comes,

Tiffany Arrows-Price 18:02 Right. Like in this present moment, we're both fine. Yeah, we're both safe. Or in a safe space. We could worry about retirement, we could worry about bills that are due next paycheck, we could worry about all kinds of things. But that's not what's here right now. And so allow your body to be right here right now.

Kevin Wallace 18:29 Tiffany has been talking about exercising mindfulness. So we had New Vista thought it would be a great opportunity to walk our audience through your very own mindfulness session. We now have a bonus episode released titled Mindfulness Moment, where you'll get to listen to a mindfulness exercise guided by Tiffany. Enjoy your 13 minutes of Zen, with our bonus episode, Mindfulness Moment now available. So go check it out. Okay, let's get back to our conversation with Tiffany. So we've got mindfulness, what's another technique we can practice.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 19:04 If you find yourself worrying a whole lot all the time frequently throughout the day, sometimes it's beneficial for some folks to make a worry appointment. And I know that sounds also kind of funny, that we would prescribe you to worry. But you know, you're going to feel what you're going to feel one way or the other. Right. And you're, you're going to devote some energy to that your body will make sure of it. So instead of just worrying all day, sometimes people can pick a time. At 4:30, I'm going to sit down, and I'm going to give myself time to worry about all the stuff that I'm worrying about. And sometimes that is effective for folks, if they know that it pops up throughout the day and they're like nope, at 4:30 I'm gonna deal with that. Yeah, at 4:30. I'll sit down, I'm gonna deal with that. Then they can go throughout their day and not have the constants. That's just another little trick that some folks find effective.

Kevin Wallace 20:00 Yeah so what do you do at the end of all that worrying? Like, you invite the worry at a certain point of the day, which can be helpful before the worry appointment, but then you're in the worry, appointment. Right. And that sounds,

Tiffany Arrows-Price 20:14 That does sound a little intimidating, intimidating. Sure, give yourself that time. Some folks might need to, you know, kind of write down what they're worried about, so they can see it, maybe process it, maybe make one goal for dealing with one thing on that list, if there are actual, like legitimate things that need to be addressed, and go from there. But you know, worrying throughout the day while you're trying to get all your other, you know, life matters in order and go to work and your tasks of the day, that's not effective. Yeah. So this allows you time that you're definitely going to give some thought to it, you're going to give your energy to it. And maybe if you want to come up with a goal or a couple action steps from that for the next day, then you have a starting point.

Kevin Wallace 20:55 Yeah. And it might even be cool to pair this with mindfulness. So like at the end of, of your, your worrying appointment, you can you can start bringing yourself back to the present moment. And acknowledging the things that you can control and then just kind of letting yourself bring bring yourself back to the present moment or the things that you can't control and let it be.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 21:19 Yeah, absolutely.

Kevin Wallace 21:21 So, yeah let's talk about one more technique. And then we can talk about counseling and medication and how that plays into all this too.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 21:28 Sure. So there are some attention centering techniques, sort of like what we just talked about, these can help neutralize anxiety often help to use the techniques to focus attention beyond the anxious thoughts. So things again, like you can use meditation, but maybe not a mindfulness style, maybe guided imagery, some deep breathing, you can find these, again, on apps, or if you go to YouTube all the time, there's different guided imagery, meditations that you can use and really just focus on something else. Right, you can do relaxation, while on a beach, for example, in some of these meditations, and that can focus your mind elsewhere and give your brain a break. Yeah, from feeling the anxiety, okay. Some other strategies that you can use as just using your expression or creativity, to route that energy into something more productive? Sure. Right. So getting into things like projects, maybe DIY, or home improvement projects, if arts and crafts is your thing, painting, drawing, getting into any other kind of hobbies, this route your energy in a productive, healthy, positive way. And can also be a reliever for anxiety as well.

Kevin Wallace 22:40 How do you do that without avoiding your problems? Right? So it can feel like it's a type of escapism, where you see a problem and you're like, Ah, okay, I've got to not think about that. So I gotta go do something a hobby of mine and forget about that. How do you, yeah.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 22:57 Brilliant , that's why I talked about the giving your anxiety space first. Yeah, doing the mindfulness, learning how to recognize that anxiety, how it is in your body, how it is that you're experiencing that and giving yourself space to address it and feel it. Yeah, these cannot be stand alones. Right, going into, you know, hobbies and different things, you know, to help route your thoughts or your anxiety elsewhere, is great, and healthy and must be a part of the full picture. Right? Right. Not the only thing that you're going to do here.

Kevin Wallace 23:34 That's so good.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 23:35 So another route you can take is the reflection or exploration type strategies. So when anxiety does arise, helping yourself number one, recognize those triggers early on, and maybe gain some insight into what is causing those thoughts, right. So again, the mindfulness will be helping you with that. But there's other things that you can incorporate such as journaling, you know, self monitoring, even having communication with a trusted friend, or folks that you're close to. Sometimes those conversations really help you gain insight into what really is behind Yeah, you know, me feeling anxious about the situation or right now.

Kevin Wallace 24:17 So have a heart to heart with a friend. I'm a big fan of the heart to hearts.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 24:21 Yeah. Healthy Relationships are vital. You know, our brain is the one organ in our body that is interpersonal. And must be so, right. And so having healthy relationships where we can kind of bounce off someone else, maybe ask them, you know, hey, how am I doing with this? I seem to be having a hard time right now. Help me figure this out. That can be really helpful. Yeah. I think overall, your brain is floating in your body. Right? And so having a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle is also really important to maintaining good mental health too. So things that we've learned since health class in elementary Right, eat well exercise, have good positive relationships, keep up your social support networks, and then work on making sure that you have a satisfying work life balance as well. And that you're just paying attention to your overall wellness and health will also, I think, help overall and reduce your anxiety as well.

Kevin Wallace 25:20 Yeah, there's just such great tools to carry with us. And so talking a little bit more about managing anxiety when it feels a little bit out of your control, and it's becoming more of a negative thing, then leading to positive outcomes, let's talk about counseling and the role of counseling and maybe medication in that as well. What is the role of counseling in your journey through anxiety?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 25:44 Sure. So earlier on in our discussion today, we even talked about sometimes cycles that we can get into, or assumptions or thoughts that we've had most of our lives, and some of this can really feed into depression and anxiety as we go through life. And so if anxiety is really a pervasive part of your life, and it's overwhelming, and it seems to be prohibiting you from doing activities that you want, or from having success in a way that you would want, now's the time to get a counselor on board. Because sometimes, you might have some blind spots, some things in yourself that you can't quite tease out, you can't really get to the core of what is causing this anxiety. Maybe it's not a matter of, you know, some very concrete things that are happening in your life right now. It's an overall pattern, this is something that a counselor can help you work through. Yeah. And it can, it can, you know, it can go a lot of different directions into what, where that is deep seated inside. And so that can take a counseling approach.

Kevin Wallace 26:50 Yeah. And sometimes we get so caught up in our own heads, or in our own emotions and feelings in our heart. And so it's really good to have that outside voice, unbiased perspective, somebody from the outside looking in, and guide you through your, what you're experiencing, and get to name some of the stuff that's that's going on. And so for those that haven't been a part of a counseling session in, in talking about anxiety, what can you expect going into a counseling session?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 27:23 You know, counselors, they're trained to look at your whole picture. Yeah, right. All the factors that can go into really, developmentally, how you got to where you are, cognitively, you know, emotionally, and really take all those factors into account when working on whatever difficulty that you're bringing to the table, whether it be anxiety or depression, or, or whatever issue that you have. So I think people are sometimes who've not been in counseling are a little bit afraid of going to counseling, they think that maybe the counselor can read their mind, or that the counselor may, you know, have negative thoughts about them. And really Or judge them for what they're going through. Right, and really, it's it's very conversational, you know, it's getting to know the the person from a whole stance, and just really helping work through the discomfort that they have, and maybe some of the roadblocks that they have to move forward. It's really it's an individualized approach for each person. Yeah. And the office. Yeah.

Kevin Wallace 28:39 Yeah. So your experience is going to be your experience and might be like somebody else's, but it won't be a carbon carbon copy of what the other person experiences.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 28:48 Becuase no person is the same. Yeah. So it's, it's very personalized to to what that person needs and what they have in their history and their background to bring to the table.

Kevin Wallace 28:58 So good. And so how does medication then come into part of the therapeutic approach to dealing with your anxiety?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 29:07 Sure, well, counselors don't prescribe medications, right. So they would they would work collaboratively with prescribed it. And to be clear, you know, some people can work through anxiety issues and medication is not absolutely needed. Now, there are some disorders that or diagnoses more to medication is absolutely needed. Anxiety, maybe not. Now, there might be instances in which, you know, if, if the individual is really not, if they're in so much distress, that they cannot functionally really participate with the counseling process, then that might be a conversation to be had with a prescriber, and there's ways that they can prescribe medication to assist in that. And that's probably, you know, where that prescriber would come in.

Kevin Wallace 29:55 Cool. Yeah. And, and so, how does it counselor work with a prescriber?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 30:02 Well, ideally, there would be some collaboration. You know about what, what the clinical presentation is, you know, what the sources of anxiety could potentially be, you know, what that individual's needs and wants are. Yeah, and of course, medical background and medical concerns would have to play a part in that too.

Kevin Wallace 30:25 Okay, great. Well, in closing, is there anything that New Vista doe, well there's plenty that is right in this area, right? What are some? What are some ways that New Vista helps with, with those dealing with anxiety?

Tiffany Arrows-Price 30:41 Oh, wow. All kinds of ways, right? Well, we do have all kinds of clinicians and prescribers here at New Vista that are accessible, and appointments are readily available, you know, through our outpatient offices, and I think, you know, that's, that's an excellent way to begin the journey towards treatment, if that if that's the route that someone wants to take.

Kevin Wallace 31:06 Yeah. So if you just call our 24-Hour Helpline, 1.800.928.8000, we will get you the help that you need. And it is it is so easy to get connected to the help that you need through through this incredible organization. If you think that there are roadblocks in place, like we can help you get over those in through those and help you see the good ahead in your life. So, Tiffany, thank you so much for this conversation. This has been wonderful. I think there's just a lot of really good stuff that we talked about today that can help folks really live into using this to their advantage in their life to see the good end.

Tiffany Arrows-Price 31:49 Thank you very much.

Kevin Wallace 31:53 Thank you for joining us in today's episode, just a reminder that this podcast is brought to you by New Vista. We assist individuals, children and families in the enhancement of their well being through mental health, substance use, and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services. We see the good ahead for all individuals in our communities. Again, if you need help, call our 24-Hour Helpline at 1.800.928.8000 or visit our website at We hope you enjoyed today's episode, and remember to check out that bonus episode, Mindfulness Moment, now available. Okay, we will see you next time.