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4 Surprising Advantages of Anxiety You Might Appreciate

4 Surprising Advantages of Anxiety You Might Appreciate

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Some would say “good things come to those who wait,” but others would add “only what is left by those who hustle.” Our characteristics can seem like virtues or defects depending on the lens through which they are examined, or the circumstances they arise from. There are always pros and cons, even if we have to take a very close look to find them. Sometimes, even the parts about ourselves we are most unsure of can be useful. So then what would be the advantages of anxiety?

How could our fear or stressful uncertainty help us? What good can come of being anxious? Here are 4 surprising advantages of anxiety.

  1. Doubt and double-checking

This one is all about balance, which isn’t easy for those who struggle with anxiety. While it is true that following up is time consuming, sometimes the time is worth it. Anxiety causes you to doubt, which can lead to double-checking. That feeling of something not being quite right can have us taking inventory, and sometimes this helps us catch things we may have missed.

One of the advantages of anxiety here is there will be many occasions when your double-checking proves useful. How many times have you asked someone if they were OK, and they say they are, but then it turns out they aren’t? Doubt and double-checking might help you push past that pretense and get to the heart of the matter.

Also, if you are depending on someone else to complete a task. Sometimes people forget. Perhaps people are afraid to ask for help. Sometimes they are misinformed and need course correction. While micro-managing can be irritating, double-checking may help you find a problem before it becomes a problem.

Yes, you may end up experiencing unnecessary stress and worry. It may become annoying to others that you need constant reassurance. In extreme cases you could even have unnecessary medical investigations due to health anxiety, leading to injuries caused by medical investigations or treatments.

Again, it is all about balance. Even if reassurance is a good thing, you can still have too much of a good thing.

  1. More careful and thoughtful

Fear is often not that useful to us, but it can be. Worry stems from fear, and the greatest danger of worry is that it is more likely to lead to inaction than it is to useful action. People who worry excessively are commonly overwhelmed by their anxieties. So much so, in fact, they ultimately don’t face their worries because resistance seems futile.

However, there are times when worry can actually be productive. The advantages of anxiety often have a lot to do with the idea of insurance. Like with any form of insurance, you are creating a back-up in case something happens, and this is useful. Just like with a car and an insurance policy, your anxiety may teach you to be more careful and protective.

That goes for your own peace of mind, your property and other people.

Worry also allows us to be more thoughtful of others, because we also come to worry about their well-being. Anxiety can help us be more conscious of our actions and how it will impact others, or how others will see us as a result. It can make us more compassionate and even more giving.

Strategic worrying is the best way to utilize this anxiety. It means making an honest evaluation of whether worrying is helping you on a case by case basis. If you connect worrying and positive behaviors, then the worrying may be worth it to you. If you are only stressing yourself without taking action, it is merely wasted energy.

  1. Prepared when things aren’t OK

This goes with the first two advantages of anxiety quite naturally. Anxious people love to rely on the idea of better safe than sorry. They have checked and double checked; they have tried to be as careful as they can. So when things are difficult, or when things go wrong, they are definitely prepared.

When things do go wrong, people with anxiety almost have the unique position of a fortune teller being vindicated. They have had time to make sure back-up plans and safety-nets in place. At the very least, they have mentally prepared themselves for that worst-case scenario. Some of us who struggle with anxiety have almost built up immunity to it.

It is not so much to say that it is good to always expect the worst, because that can lead to compromising your standards and a willingness to settle where you shouldn’t. However, knowing that you have put things in place just in case is reassuring that you’ve done all you can. Then, even if things fail you cannot say you didn’t at least do your best.

So essentially, being prepared for when things go wrong shouldn’t be an excuse to prematurely accept defeat. Instead these advantages to anxiety give you a reason to take more action.

  1. Excited when everything is OK

On the flip-side to that last point, another of the big advantages of anxiety is when you are surprised to learn that everything is OK. As we were saying, anxiety can have you preparing for the worst and jumping to negative conclusions, but when those premonitions don’t come to fruition, it is both relieving and exciting.

You basically give yourself a little rush with that experience of relief and happiness when you learn your fears have been averted, especially if your anxieties have almost convinced you that your nightmare scenario came true. That feeling of discovering everything isn’t what is seemed can be truly uplifting. This is probably the most gratifying of the advantages of anxiety.

It is nice when our expectations of a situation are exaggerated. We find some things are easier than we expect. Sometimes, this can make us even more proud of all the work we had done leading up to that moment because we overcame our fear, while still being prepared either mentally, physically or even financially not to come out OK.

As someone who has battled with anxiety a lot in life, I can say that knowing I was ready, even when I didn’t end up needing it, was an extremely gratifying feeling.

If you have an anxiety disorder it can interfere with your life in some very big ways. If you feel like you need more support with getting it under control, please consider some form of treatment. Anxiety and other psychological disorders are common to those who also struggle with substance abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling, help is available. Palm Partners offers dual diagnosis treatment to help people with mental illness and addiction issues to heal and recover. Please, call now.

    CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

4 Meditation Tips for More Mindfulness

4 Meditation Tips for More Mindfulness

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

When we think of meditation and mindfulness we often have a certain image or experience in our mind. Some people think it must be a profound and extremely disciplined experience every time. Our misconceptions about what meditation really is often deter us from actively practicing it. However when we do practice, we realize the benefits of mindfulness. Regardless of how you imagine meditation should be, give yourself plenty of opportunity to try it out and see what is could be.

Here are 4 meditation tips for more mindfulness.

  1. You’re NOT “bad” at meditation

When the concept of meditation is suggested, some people immediately assume they are “bad at it.” They allow their preconceptions of what meditation is supposed to mean tell them can’t successfully use it to find serenity. The very simplicity of meditation can itself present a challenge because the mind’s habitual nature prefers stimulation through distraction over intense focus.

It is as if you find yourself in a quiet space, sit in silence and then continuously ask yourself- “am I meditating yet?” or “Is this how I’m supposed to do it?”

The reality is meditation is not strictly limited to sitting in full-lotus with candles everywhere and yogi music playing. Meditation is about the practice of drawing awareness to the present, and some people meditate through activities or exercise.

Yoga, for example, is described by many as a moving meditation. So, don’t trouble yourself with wondering if you’re meditating ‘right’ or if you are ‘bad at it,’ because your practice is yours. The more you practice, the more it will grow into whatever you need it to be.

  1. The goal is NOT to be “good” at meditation

Just like with the assumption that you can be ‘bad at it,’ if you approach meditation with the goal of “I want to be good at this” you’re probably going to be disappointed. There are no gold medals for meditation… at least, not that I know of. But anyone can just go buy a gold Buddha if it’s really that important to them.

Sometimes meditation can be boring. In our world on smartphones and constant connection, we rarely have to be bored anymore. Just because you get bored doesn’t mean you have to be better at meditating, it is just a thought we all feel. Recognize it, reflect and move on. Even people who have been meditating a long time can still get bored with it.

When meditation is offered to many of us in early recovery we may have this thought that once we ‘master’ meditation we will begin to see results right away. We are the type to thrive off instant gratification after all. We want it to help us get well right away, but it doesn’t always work like that. Just remember, there are no trophies for meditation… I think.

  1. Don’t criticize your mind

We utilize the practice of meditation to set an intention and focus, but also to notice when the mind loses focus, and to see where it goes. The mind is good at wandering, but you should never criticize yourself for it. Being the witness to the wandering mind is part of the practice. If you begin to think on other things, just be aware of those things as they present themselves.

Just as a random example- If my intention in meditation is on my gratitude, and suddenly my mind has drifted off into the dynamics of my relationships with my family, I should take notice. Maybe my mind is trying to tell me how grateful I am for my family. Maybe it is telling me how gratitude brings them to mind. I acknowledge the thought and come back into focus. I should not criticize my mind for drifting off topic, or criticize the thoughts themselves.

Sometimes we beat ourselves up because the mind will take us so far from our intention we forget how we got there. We begin to feel we are ‘bad at it’ again, or that we are wasting time. Don’t let these frustrations or the nature of the wandering mind make you critical. Be present to your mediation without judgment.

  1. Let go of the outcome of your meditation

Once we’re aware of the benefits of meditating, we might set expectation on every experience. You might trick yourself into thinking you must feel a certain way, but expectations can be down-payments on disappointments. We may expect to feel calm and relaxed; clarity and serenity, and when we don’t get the outcome we anticipate we can get frustrated.

In reality meditation will lead you to several different experiences. Sometimes the experience will change multiple times within a single session. Part of the practice is letting go of the outcome. Approach your meditation with an open heart and mind. Waiting for a specific result can also distance us from the present moment.

Again, meditation is about being aware and in tune with the present. It is not about judging our experience. Meditating to be “good at it” is like saying you watched TV for hours just to make sure the remote works. Your mind and the present are already there, meditation is just about taking the time away from your overactive or analytical mode to notice them. Don’t expect answers all the time, just be aware and listen.

Meditation can reform the mind in the most incredible ways, and it is often one of the best medicines for people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. It can be used for mental, emotional and even physical fitness. Holistic recovery is about a lot more than removing drugs and alcohol; it is also about rewiring our thinking. If you or someone you love is struggling, find out how holistic healing can help.

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Faith-Based Hope Over Heroin Brings Ohio Together

Faith-Based Hope Over Heroin Brings Ohio Together

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

It has been heavy on my heart when hearing about the outbreak of overdose deaths in Buckeye country, and it has broken my heart to see people I have known all my life struggling with substance abuse and addiction as I have. But along with hearing about the stories that trouble me, I’m happy to report on something that brings hope.

This past weekend several hundred Ohioans gathered together at Dodge Park in Franklinton in solidarity for fighting back against this epidemic. This was a two-day Hope Over Heroin event to offer free heroin-addiction support to the public, along with food and live music.

Hope Over Heroin

Hope Over Heroin (HOH) is a faith-based effort made up from different communities. According to their website Hope Over Heroin launched back in the summer of 2014 after a streak of devastation. The site front page states:

“Hope Over Heroin is a collaborative ministry led by Pastors in Ohio and Kentucky who came together to connect the Body of Christ in order to Break the chains of the Addicted!”

In the year 2014:

  • 2,531 Ohio residents died from unintentional drug overdoses, a 20 percent increase from the year before, according to an Ohio Department of Health report
  • Heroin accounted for about 47 percent of those deaths.
  • In one week there were more than 14 deaths from heroin overdoses in Hamilton County

All of which ultimately contributed to this combined effort to fight back. Since then, the Cincinnati-based movement has gone mobile. Now Hope Over Heroin brings its mission to cities all over Ohio, and now parts of Kentucky and Indiana. Still on this year’s schedule for events is:

  • August 26-27 in Norwood, Ohio
  • September 9-10 in Brookville, Indiana
  • September 17 in Kenton, Ohio

These events include a collective prayer march for raising awareness and even water baptisms for those inclined.

Hope and Higher Power

The Reverend Jeff Leslie, of Judah Tabernacle on the South Side, joined other pastors and volunteers onstage Friday to talk about hope to the people who came to the event. During his time on stage he stated,

“We want the community to come to the awareness of the epidemic of heroin that is here, and offer the opportunity to get freedom from that and not have to stay in that condition.”

Reverend Leslie believes faith in a higher power offers a great companion on the road to recovery. Of course, many 12 Step fellowships can concur with this idea, as the presence of the phrase “higher power” is part of the language of these rooms. While 12 Step fellowships are typically completely separate from any specific faith, they give respect to the efforts of religious organizations for their help in the healing process of countless addicts who are recovering.

Faith and Non-Faith for Hope

Another important thing about Hope Over Heroin is no one is denied resources based on spirituality or religious status. There were approximately 30 churches participating in the Dodge Park event. These groups work without bias to connect on-hand representatives from 35 different treatment services to those in need.

Even non-religious volunteers and participants are seen gathered together for group prayer and blessings. These events may be organized by faith-based groups, but they accept those from all walks of life with compassion. The churches still minister to the public, but the resources they make available are across the board. After all, it doesn’t make sense to go out waving the banner or spiritual power if you are unwilling to show love and empathy for all.

Programs like this should restore some faith in humanity for even those who are strongly opposed to faith fellowships. The fact that community leaders are organizing to help right back is amazing and inspiring. Holistic healing is based in the idea of integrating mind, body and spirit into the recovery process regardless of religious affiliation. Putting saving lives first it critical to making a difference in changing lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

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Be Free: The Art of Navigating Your Jealous Emotions

Be Free: The Art of Navigating Your Jealous Emotions

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Before we begin this article, let me just say:

Everyone gets jealous.  It’s okay.

In case you were not aware, we are all human.

No, but really, jealousy is a natural emotion. How you respond to jealousy is a choice. We all have to make choices on how we respond to our feelings. I have found over the years; I am able to evaluate my emotions better. Jealousy is something I do not let take over my life, and it has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine.

Nevertheless, jealousy can be a healthy emotion if you learn to navigate it. Jealousy can be your biggest motivator or your strongest downfall. You choose. How do you want to live your life? Do you want to go your entire life looking at other people’s lives, or do you want to live?

Are you wallowing in your jealousy?

According to clinical psychologist, Christina Hibbert, jealousy becomes a problem “when we act out in jealousy, or we wallow in it.”  Essentially, jealousy becomes negative in your life when you let it consume you. When jealousy begins to creep into every part of your life, you need to evaluate why you are letting that emotion control you.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”  -Steve Furtick

This quote pinpoints the cause of jealousy. We are too focused on the exterior of another person’s life that sometimes we forget to dig deeper. Everyone has their ups and downs. You might believe someone’s life is much easier than yours, but the truth is, everyone has their good days and their bad days.

Social media is a breeding ground for jealousy. All the beautiful pictures and the happy statuses and false perception of perfection make us believe that we are the only one struggling. But isn’t this thought process irrational?

After all, social media does not show you the challenges that a person had to overcome to get to where they are. It does not show the emotional obstacles, the hard work, and the determination it took for that person to post that beautiful picture you just liked.

So What Underlies Jealousy?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, jealousy stems from insecurity.

“We feel threatened, or less than or not good enough,” Hibbert said. “[W]e fear that someone else’s strengths mean something negative about us.”

The best way to overcome jealousy is to learn how to navigate it better. In recovery, learning to navigate jealousy is an important tool because you will see people in different stages of their journey.  There will be some people doing amazing things in their recovery. However, the important thing is to remember that at one point, they were once where you were.

5 Ways to Navigate Jealousy

  1. Be Honest With Yourself.

    “Awareness is fire; it burns all that is wrong in you. It burns your ego. It burns your greed, it burns your possessiveness, it burns your jealousy – it burns all that is wrong and negative, and it enhances all that is beautiful, graceful, and divine.”Osho

    The first step is to admit you have a problem, right? Yup, this applies to jealousy too. Most people who are jealous do not even realize it. Jealousy can manifest itself as anger, irritability, anxiety, or even depression. One time, it took me an entire week to realize my reaction to something stemmed from jealousy. However, the moment I realized, I was able to overcome that emotion. Ask yourself, “Are any of my emotions arising from jealousy?” Assessing your jealousy opens the door to learning.

  2. Ask Yourself: Are You Insecure?

    “A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.”Robert A. Heinlein

    Jealousy stems from insecurity. The goal of this step is to acknowledge all the things you are insecure about and write them down. Are you insecure about your body? Are financial struggles holding your back? Do you have goals you never accomplished and envied others who have progressed more?
    If the answer yes to any of these questions, then you have work to do.  Use jealousy to motivate you in your journey, not hold you down. If you spend your day feeling sorry for yourself, you will get less accomplished in the long haul.

  1. Practice Gratitude.

    “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ― Epicurus

    I know this is going to seem crazy, but one day, someone will be jealous of you. Someone is likely jealous of you right now. They could be jealous of your health, your age, your wisdom. They might even be jealous of your ears. Who knows? We all want what we do not have. Practicing gratitude is being thankful for what you already have. It is acknowledging the accomplishments you have made in your life.Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Gratitude is not always easy to practice, but it is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. By practicing gratitude, you can put things into perspective. Stop being jealous and start being thankful.

  2. Let Go of Your Jealousy.

    “People come to me and they say they would like to be happy, but they cannot drop their jealousy. If you can’t drop your jealousy, love will never grow — the weeds of jealousy will destroy the rose of love. And when love does not grow, you will not be happy. Because who can be happy without love growing?” -Osho

    Jealousy is not an emotion you need in your life. Jealousy is toxicity in your soul. Holding on to jealousy creates hatred in the body. Tell yourself you do not need this emotion any longer. Imagine the resentment flowing through your body and breathe the jealousy you feel out of your system. Repeat a mantra and meditate until the jealousy leaves your system. Let it go.

  1. Transform Your Jealousy.

    “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”  – Nelson Mandela.

    Learning to manage your emotions will teach you how to respond better to jealousy. Jealousy is an excellent motivator. If you find yourself becoming jealous of someone’s body, lifestyle, or stage of life, you can use that emotion to make a goal for yourself. Jealousy helps you understand the things you desire for in your life. Think about the sacrifices that are required to achieve that person’s success. Are you willing to make those sacrifices? If not, why are you jealous? Learn the steps needed to obtain the goals that you see other people accomplishing. Understand your jealousy and create goals for yourself. Stop wasting time on jealousy and use that emotion to create a life even you would be jealous of. See what I did there?

Jealousy is a natural emotion everyone experiences. Jealousy becomes a problem when we let it take over our lives. If you find yourself becoming jealous, the time is now to assess your journey.  You have the ability to change your life.  Create the life you want today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

The list of talented people who have struggled with addiction is incredibly long. It would take way too much time to list them all. Do creativity and addiction correlate with one another? Are creative individuals more likely to be addicts? That controversial question has been debated for decades.

For the most part, researchers have concluded that people whose abuse substances are not more creative or more successful as a result. Neuroscientist, David Linden of Johns Hopkins University, declared in an interview that there was not a connection between creativity and addiction. He stated that suggesting otherwise confuses coincidence with cause.

Addiction is a disease, not a shortcut to success. When looking at famous writers who were alcoholics, like Fitzgerald or Hemmingway, it is easy to assume that alcohol helped fuel their creative process. However, this is just a perception. Creativity does not stem from substance abuse, nor should substances be the source of your creativity.

Substance Abuse = Source of Creativity?

Dependence on drugs and alcohol should not be the source of your creativity. We should not glorify substance abuse as a means to creativity. In the book, “The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent and IQ,”  author, David Shenk states extraordinary talent and achievement come from “the combined consequence of early exposure, exceptional instruction, constant practice, family nurturance, and a child’s intense will to learn.” Essentially, your creativity and intelligence come from your inner will to succeed along with the role models and guidance you have in your life. Behind every successful talent is a teacher, coach or motivator pushing them along.

The problem is highly creative people find their minds are overwhelmed with data streaming in and out of their consciousness. The average person has a cognitive filter that filters this information as a means to survival.  The creative person, however, does not have this filter.  Highly creative people let more of this data in their mind. Therefore, they need to process and organize the increased information flow in untypical ways.

Unfortunately, because creative people think outside of the box and look at the world differently, they look at rules differently.  The term for this trait is cognitive disinhibition which an article describes as “the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival.”

The “rules are meant to be broken” mentality both produces creativity and creates destructiveness.  Creativity can result in risky behavior. It is risky because creative people justify their creative behavior when they create while using substances.

“Mind Expanding” Substances

Famous artists were thought to be more brilliant because of their liberal use of “mind expanding substances.”  However, time and time again, it has been proven that creative people are able to maintain their creativity without substances. Those in recovery find that their mind is clearer, making them more able to follow through on their natural creative impulses.

On the contrary, long-term substance abuse can permanently damage creativity. Extended drug use can affect the brain damaging it in ways that may not even be recoverable even after years of sobriety. Scary, isn’t it?
The first time a creative person abuses drugs or alcohol, they may find they can express themselves better. This may cause them to believe they “need” these substances to be creative. However, reactions like this are temporary. Also, creative people may be using substances to self-medicate mental health issues they have not addressed professionally.

Why Are Creativity and Addiction So Prevalent?

Now that we know there is not a direct link between substance abuse and creativity, why do so many creative geniuses deal with addiction? Most of this has to do with the genetics and traits that make someone predisposed to addiction. Those same traits are a prerequisite for creativity.

Studies reveal that 40 percent of addiction is genetically predetermined. While family history is no guarantee that someone will have a problem, there is a strong connection between the two. There are several genes involved in addiction risk. Experts have not identified them all, however, the ones we are currently aware of affect the release of the happy chemical dopamine.

Dopamine Depletion?

Addicts tend to feel pleasure weaker than the average person. Because of this, addicts abuse substances in an attempt to achieve the same level of happiness that others feel natural. There may not be a direct link between drug addiction or mental illness and creativity, but science hints at a connection between substance abuse and traits that are a prerequisite for creativity. A low-functioning dopamine system can make a person more likely to misuse substance and engage in risk-taking, novelty-seeking compulsions.

This same low-functioning dopamine system relates to creativity. Individuals who have struggled with releasing happy chemicals  their whole life may latch on to creative outlets like music, art, and writing to help re-generate that dopamine and process information better.

Overall, your risk for addiction is up to you. You have a choice to use healthier outlets to compensate for genetic factors that may put you at risk for substance abuse. Creativity should not have to be fueled by addiction. You have the ability to be a creative person without the use of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. 

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