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Don’t S*** on the Present
Addressing Anxiety and Regret
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs Counseling CEUs and Specialty Certificates
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox, Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

Counseling CEUs can be earned for this presentation at https://www.allceus.com/member/cart/index/product/id/716/c/2

Objectives
~ Explore the concept of anxiety and regret being energy tied up in the future and the past
~ Identify 5 anxiety management techniques and learn methods to tech those
~ Identify 5 regret interventions and learn methods to teach those
~ Identify ways to find happiness on a daily basis: Daily scavenger hunt
Anxiety (Worry) and Regret
~ Worry is a term assigned to anxiety about things which have not yet happened
~ Energy tied up in the future
~ Regret is a term assigned to anger or disappointment at yourself for things that already happened
~ Energy tied up in the past
~ People only have too much energy
~ Is holding on to regret or worrying helping you achieve your goals and live a rich and meaningful life?
~ How could you more effectively use your energy to achieve your goals
Question
~ What are some common anxiety themes or issues for you?

Anxiety Management Technique 1
~ Physical
~ The mind and body are intertwined. Anything that stimulates your nervous system can trigger or worsen anxiety
~ Stressors can be additive (Straw that broke the camels back)
~ Think about a day when you have few stressors and then your boss called and told you to report to HR immediately
~ Think about a day filled with minor stressors followed by that same stressor
~ The body recognizes it is running low on resources so it perceives each additional stressor as a greater threat.

Anxiety Management Technique 1
~ Physical
~ Interventions
~ Examine what stimulants you are consuming
~ Look at side effects of medications (Opiates, benzos, SSRIs, SNRIs, decongestants…)
~ Learn about good nutrition
~ Lack of quality protein
~ Insufficient magnesium, calcium, B vitamins
~ Dehydration
~ Blood sugar issues
~ Practice good sleep hygiene to ensure your circadian (and cortisol) rhythms are in synch
~ Get a physical to rule out hormone issues

Anxiety Management Technique 2
~ Environmental
~ Your environment can be calming or draining.
~ Feng Shui for Anxiety
~ Too much brightness (including fluorescent lights), harsh lines and orange/red colors can contribute to anxiety
~ Make sure you can always see people approaching you
~ Essential oils (lavender, chamomile, valerian, clary sage)
~ Get organized (for you)
~ Examine the environment for stressful items and sounds (pictures, bills, reminders of stressful people or times)
Anxiety Management Technique 3
~ Cognitive
~ Thoughts trigger nervous system response. If you tell your body there is a threat, it will respond.
~ Systematic desensitization for fears
~ Think of the stressful situation.
~ Imagine yourself there.
~ Note your stress level.
~ Identify and dispute your stressful thoughts.
~ Practice this until you can imagine the situation without getting stressed out.
~ When you experience the situation. Use the disputing thoughts you have already identified to talk yourself down.
Anxiety Management Technique 4
~ Cognitive
~ Challenging Questions (one issue at a time)
~ What is the evidence for and against this fear?
~ Is my reasoning based on fact or feelings?
~ What other explanations might there be for this?
~ Am I using extreme (all-or-nothing) words?
~ Which parts of this are within my control?
~ How can I use this “nervous energy” to address things within my control?
~ In the big scheme of things, is this worth my energy?

Anxiety Management Technique 5
~ Cognitive
~ Radical Acceptance and Hardiness
~ Accept without judgement that you are anxious, but don’t fight it. Realize that feelings subside within about 20 minutes if they aren’t fed.
~ Turn your attention to hardiness during that 20 minutes
~ What in your life are you committed to / what is meaningful and going well
~ What parts of your life and this situation do you have control over and what can you do to improve the next moment?
~ How can you view this situation as a challenge instead of a threat?

Regret
~ Anger at yourself
~ Anger is half of fight or flee… excitatory
~ To eliminate regret, you must eliminate the threat
~ Remember that many times choices in the past made sense based on
~ The knowledge and experiences until that point
~ External factors
~ Your current tools, energy and needs
Questions
~ What are some common regrets you have?
Regret Intervention 1
~ Identify the threat
~ What does this regret say about you as a person?
~ Is this true about you in all situations?
~ Are you the same person you were then?
~ How can you improve?
~ How is this regret threatening to your self-image and/or current lifestyle? (cheating, criminal charges, DUI, abortion, drop out of college)
~ How can you best deal with it now?
~ In what ways can dealing with this issue make you stronger or help others?

Regret Intervention 2
~ Stop with the hindsight
~ In that situation did you do the best you could with the tools, energy and information you had at the time?
~ Use the opportunity to become better at remaining mindful and adapting.

Regret Intervention 3
~ Focus on gratitude
~ What is it that you have now that is good, despite the past?
~ What opportunities do you still have
Regret Intervention 4
~ Forgive yourself and accept that you are fallible.
~ Forgiveness is a choice to quit “spending” energy in the past and dedicate that energy to improving in the future.
~ Identify 5 people whom you respect. Are they infallible? Are they without regret? How would they handle regret?

Regret Intervention 5
~ Explore the benefits (and perpetrators) of self-hatred
~ What would happen if you stopped being angry at yourself for this?
~ Who are the internal critics and what are they telling you?
Happiness Scavenger Hunt
~ This will help you remember there is more to life than eliminating anxiety/anger/regret
~ You cannot be miserable and happy at the same time
~ Brainstorm a list of things that make you happy and do one each day, mindfully.

Happiness Scavenger Hunt
~ Keep a log each day of 5 things that made you smile.

 

Summary
~ Anxiety and regret take up an inordinate amount of people’s energy.
~ Often helping people understand the function of the feeling and addressing it can help them get “un-stuck”
~ Anxiety can be addressed both directly with cognitive interventions and indirectly by eliminating triggers and vulnerabilities.