Fall Back into Routine to Reduce Anxiety

It’s that time of year when we get back into our routines, whether it be work, exercise, eating or school, after enjoying a couple months sabbatical. Even if you don’t have children returning to school, September symbolizes a fresh start. For many people, work and school are sources of high stress and continuous anxiety. And, since ignoring them is not a practical solution, why not implement some simple and effective lifestyle habits that can greatly reduce the anxiety that may arise from daily circumstances.

In this newsletter edition, you will receive 5 effective anxiety-reducing strategies that you can start implementing right away.

Strategy 1: Make Sure Your Diet is Balanced

A poor diet deprives your body of the important nutrients it needs to function optimally. Maintaining a poor diet for an extended period of time forces the body to compensate by raising the stress-hormone cortisol. Chronic high-stress levels can wreak havoc on overall health and wellbeing. So it’s important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet consisting of protein, fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Drinking enough water daily in order to stay hydrated, and limiting or avoiding alcohol and caffeine will also help relieve anxiety. Complex carbohydrates metabolize slowly, and therefore help maintain a more even blood sugar level, creating a calmer feeling.

If you cannot commit to eating a balanced meal every day, have a supply of meal replacement bars or shakes available as an alternative.

Strategy 2: Get Physical

There are two amazing benefits from being physically active. First, it releases endorphins immediately into the body. Endorphins are the feel-good hormones that long distance runners enjoy and promote.  Any level of physical activity can start the release of endorphins meaning you do not need to be a marathon runner to get the benefits. Consider what you can commit to daily to get our body moving. Maybe it’s a walk, or a bike ride, or a short visit to the local gym. Whatever you can do to get moving will make you feel better and less stressed.

Secondly, exercise takes your focus off of whatever is stressing you out. Switching your attention to something else gives your brain a chance to take a break. You may be surprised at the perspective that comes from not thinking about your problem!

Strategy 3: Sleep Baby!

There is not enough good to say about the powerful effects of sleep. We live in a sleep-deprived society, due to our fast-paced and demanding lifestyles. And sleep deprivation is a sure fire way to generate a bad mood and feed our anxious feelings. Moreover, a lack of sleep can throw off cortisol rhythms and mix up the body’s circadian clock. Anyone who has flown internationally can relate to how difficult it is to feel good when your internal time clock is out of whack.

Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night to minimize anxiety. If you are having trouble getting to or staying asleep try taking some of the natural sleep aids available at your local drug store.

Strategy 4: Set a Daily Routine

One of the best ways to avoid feeling anxious is to develop a daily routine and a to-do list. Start with a morning routine which ensures that you wake up early enough to get everything done that you need to before heading off to work or school. Waking up late is a guaranteed way to start your day with anxiety.

Many people get anxious because their schedule is either too rushed or sporadic, and there is no time for themselves within their daily activities. There should be enough time within your morning routine to either read a bit, do some exercise and/or enjoy a nutritious breakfast. Starting your day in a calm, relaxed way will set it up for success.

Strategy 5: Meditation

Meditation is more than just sitting with your eyes closed. It is the practice of training your mind to let thoughts come and go without fixating on any thought in particular. It takes practice and as with all good habits, it takes some time to develop. Be patient with yourself and encourage yourself to keep at it.

Picture yourself watching cars on a busy highway rushing past, and you have to take notice of every license plate. That would be exhausting and impossible. Now, what if you could stand there, ignore the cars, and instead focus on something in the distance. Maybe a sunset or a beautiful, magnificent tree. That would be much more calming, wouldn’t it? Meditation is an amazing skill to use when you have anxiety. As your anxious thoughts about yesterday, tomorrow, five years from now race in and out of your mind, being able to slow down your thoughts and focus on a calming image greatly reduces the level of anxiousness. Training your mind to be in the present is vital to managing anxiety.

For more discussion on anxiety, what it is, why we feel anxiousness and how it can be managed, please click on the links to either of my blogs below.

Log onto my website at www.itcanbedifferent.ca and download a free tool called Focus and Peace. This audio file will teach you how to overcome anxiousness instantly.

Come and see me at the Empowering Women to Succeed Conference on September 25th. Go to http://empoweringwomentosucceed.com/conference2018 and book your complimentary 30-minute session.

How to Shake Off a Bad Mood

Do you ever feel your bad mood is just impossible to shake off?  That it seems as if it has a grip on you and is out of your control?  Positive thinking and affirmations are just not working to move past this bad mood?

Why is this?  Why is it that sometime our moods are resistant to our positive thinking?

Well, there are two components to a mood.  Firstly, there is your thinking, which includes your mental images and self-talk. Secondly, there is your physiology.  By physiology, I do not just mean your posture, but your entire body.  These two components feed each other, and each strengthens the other.  It is like a back and forth relationship.This means that you have to change both your thinking and your physiology to get out of a bad mood

Why Does Positive Thinking Alone Sometimes Just Not Work?

I bet you have heard the saying that you just need to think positive thoughts to get out of a bad mood.  Many of us who want to have a positive outlook and truly believe in the benefits of being positive are spending a lot of time and energy attempting to think positive thoughts as a way to manage our moods.  So, we make sure that we imagine happy encounters, scenarios, outcomes and interactions.  And then we say to ourselves: “cheer up, look on the bright side, there is always a lesson in everything”.

Now if a fairly strong negative mood has a grip on us and it has lasted days or even just hours, then this positive thinking and self-talk is just not going to have much of an impact.  The reason is that the physiology of the mood is too powerful.

That is why, once we recognize that our positive thinking is not working, we often just give up. This allows the negative mood to just keep going.

However, when positive thinking alone is not working, it simply means that we are not going about it in the right way.

Get Physical

The quickest and easiest way to shake off a bad mood is to start with changing your physical body.  This opens up the pathway to have clearer and more positive thinking.   Once you have physically loosened things up, you can more easily deal with your thoughts.

Here is a checklist of things to check and change:

1. Posture:

Scan your body and check for tension.  Stretch out wherever you feel tension, whether it is in your back, shoulders, neck.  Make sure you are standing and sitting straight with shoulders back and head up.

2. Facial Tension:

Your face can hold a lot of tension, especially in the brow and jaw area.  Check on these places and see if you are holding tension there and if so, stretch it out.

3. Physical Movement:

Begin by sitting less and walking more.  So many of us spend considerable time sitting in our cars or in front of screens.  Our bodies are meant to be physically active however, our modern-day lifestyles do not support this.  Get up and move for a couple of minutes each hour.  Check your posture every hour or so to make sure you are not slumping or slouching.  If you use a computer every day, try standing more while you are on it and also take time to look away and stretch your eye muscles.  Sitting less will affect your mood.  Try it for a week or two and see the results for yourself.

4. Singing:

Wherever and whenever you feel comfortable, like when you are alone driving, or you are home alone, use the opportunity to sing.  Sing happy songs that have a lively rhythm and notice how your mood changes.  Songs that are associated with happy memories are the best to sing and will give you the extra boost of a positive memory to associate with.  The other benefit of singing aloud is that it blocks internal self-talk, and it is the inner self talk that is maintaining the negative mood.

5. Smile:

This is really a no-brainer.  Smiling is just a powerful outward and inward expression of positivity.  If you smile, chances are someone is going to smile back at you and that adds the benefit of you receiving the good feelings of the other person’s positivity.  Smiling also internally turns on so many positive brain receptors that it floods your body with positive chemicals.

Move Yourself into a Better Mood

These physical techniques for feeling good are useful tools and can be easily integrated into your daily life.  By changing your physicality you will soon notice that you feel better.  And when you feel better you will start to think more positively and the bad mood will disappear… and then things can start to be different.

I invite you to share your experience with worrying in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,


Worrying is Mental Rehearsal for Failure

Worrying about an upcoming event, appointment, job interview, presentation, exam or really just about anything is normal and we all do it.  And the more important the event, the more worried we become.

We imagine we will forget things, get lost, mess up our words, look silly, get embarrassed, perform poorly, not get the results we are hoping for…….

As the days to the event gets closer and closer, the worrying becomes more and more intense and vivid. It begins to impede on our daily activities and on our ability to rest and relax.

What we are actually doing is mentally rehearsing failure over and over again.  We are unintentionally programming ourselves for the one thing we don’t want which is to fail.

So What is Mental Rehearsal?

Mental rehearsal is a powerful technique that has been used by sports psychologists and trainers for over 50 years.  It is the process by which you imagine yourself in the future performing or being in a situation.

High performers in sports, performing arts, and business use this technique to up their game and to prepare themselves to ace whatever they are doing.  They mentally rehearse over and over again, refining and perfecting their performance each time.  They are teaching their mind and body what to do when the real-life situation is in front of them.

Worriers use the same technique of mental rehearsal except for the opposite result.  Worriers imagine their performance as not being the best ever, but the worst ever.  Not as getting them closer to their goals and dreams, but to pull themselves down the slope of failure and disaster.

Over and over again they rehearse the event with the results being more and more disastrous.  And each time they do this their body gets into the negative emotions that are related to the imagined poor outcome – sadness, disappointment, anger, embarrassment.

The body does not know that the event is imagined or real, so it is responding with all of the stress hormones that are associated with the negative emotions pulling the body into an unhealthy state.

So, How Can We Turn Things Around?

Basically, all you have to do is replace worrying with positive mental rehearsal.  Here are some steps to build this new, healthy habit:

1. Awareness

Every behaviour or habit change starts with awareness.  Become aware of when you are worrying about an upcoming event.  If it is something out of your control, then realize that by worrying you are predicting and imagining the worst possible scenario and instead you could choose to imagine a positive outcome.  Why waste your time on creating a mental image of something that is negative when you could just as easily create a mental image of a positive scenario?

If the event is something you do have control over, like a presentation, ask yourself if your worry is a signal that you have not properly prepared.  If it is, then take the necessary steps to prepare for your presentation to enable the best possible outcome.

2. Create an Ideal Scenario

The ideal performance is where you are handling the situation with ease and with skill and it is what you want as the outcome as opposed to the disaster movies of what you do not want.  Every time you think of it, define and refine this ideal performance.  Some people like to see themselves as if they are watching a movie whereas some people like to be right in the situation.  Either way is fine and either way can work beautifully.

3. Act Instantly

Every time you catch yourself slipping into the negative mental rehearsal pattern, replace it with the desired movie.  Do it instantly, as soon as you catch yourself.  There is no value lingering in the disaster movie.  Be diligent with yourself, you are changing an old habit and so you need to be on top of it.

Can I Really Do This?

Yes you can!  You are already mentally rehearsing, so why not create the outcome that you want.

You are deluding yourself when you are thinking about something in the future because it hasn’t happened yet.  So what you think will happen is only a guess.

Mental rehearsal wires the neurons in our brain so that we build the skills to handle the situation once it arrives.  Positive and negative mental rehearsal works.  So, why not get ready to handle it the way you want it to turn out?

We have all been doing mental rehearsal all our lives – we have just been doing it wrong.

Select the movie of our life that you want.  You are in control.  You are the director of your life.  And after a while you may start to enjoy the benefits of calmness, less anxiety and more control. Trust that it can be different!

I invite you to share your experience with worrying in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,


It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

How accepting are you of the notion that it’s okay to not be okay?

Think about it.  Be honest with yourself.  Initially, you are probably saying something like, “Sure, I can handle not being okay.”  But can you really?  When those days show up and you are dealing with feelings such as sadness, hurt, anger, guilt – what is your reaction?  Is it to push those feelings away and get rid of them as soon as possible?

What if I told you that it’s okay to not be okay?

Well, it’s true.  You don’t have to be totally together all the time – have all the answers, be calm and poised, look glamorous, present yourself as collected, etc.  Trying to keep it together all the time is exhausting and debilitating and leads to anxiety, nervousness and stress.  It can become a fertile breeding ground for some destructive coping habits and health issues.

So what is the best way to deal with not being okay?

First of all, assess whether or not it is a short-term situation or something that has been going on for a long period of time.  If it is something that you feel will most likely pass, then facing and acknowledging the feelings is the key to handling the situation in a healthy way.  Accept that the feelings are present and that you cannot and should not ignore them.   Stillness and being with our emotions can bring forward clues about what is happening in our world and what we need to feel in that moment.

You Are Not Alone…

Also, recognize that everyone has days during which they don’t feel okay. This means you are not alone and you are not broken.  It is a normal, expected part of living.  Having days of not being okay should never be anything that you are humiliated about.

And here is some good news, having an off day opens up space to take care of yourself, to meet your needs, to receive help and step into solutions that might result in some positive changes.  Be open to the opportunity that is being presented to you and explore with curiosity of what it could bring for you.

Knowing When to Seek Help

If however your days of not being okay are becoming many and they are more the norm than the exception, then seeking out opportunities for help to manage your emotional states is a positive step.   There is no shame is getting help.  Find someone you trust like a friend of a family member to talk to.   Recognize that the first step in moving towards health and happiness is to have awareness. So congratulate yourself on achieving that step.  Professional help is also available.   There are people trained specifically in addressing negative emotions  and can help guide you towards a life of living without the burden of toxic, unhappy feelings.

Put yourself first and realize that with a little effort It Can Be Different.

You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,


What Does Anxiety Look Like?

what does anxiety feel like? personal breakthroughs nlp coaching aurora - It Can Be Different Karen Spencer

In this blog, we are going to explore what anxiety looks like, what it feels like, and how it shows up in our lives.  I am talking about anxiety that is not productive.  You know, the kind that keeps you up at night, that stops you in your tracks, that makes you and everyone around you crazy.

This unhealthy anxiety can strike at any moment and usually does.  It sometimes creeps into your life bit by bit, tapping you on the shoulder like a person trying to get your attention.  Or it can barge into your life like a house invader that just broke down the front door.  Throwing things around without regard for your feelings.  Totally unwanted and frightening.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

When someone asks me what anxiety feels like, I generally talk about these symptoms.  You can feel panicky, unsure, irritable, jittery, numb.  Sometimes you become hypervigilant.  You can experience headaches, migraines, vomiting, nausea, clammy hands, clenched jaw, panting, trembling, racing heart, inability to speak or think clearly, breathlessness, tight chest or insomnia.  You can start performing repeated patterns such as scratching or picking at yourself and you can develop a sensitivity to light or sound.

Thoughts You Can’t Turn Off

You may also have repetitive thoughts that you cannot turn off, no matter how hard you try.  Random, flittering thoughts that are most likely negative and predict a worse-case scenario.  These thoughts tend to lead from one disaster to another such as “this will happen and then that will happen and then that will cause this to happen.

These stories that we tell ourselves are vivid and melodramatic with everything that could possibly go wrong occurring all at once.  These stories are always in the future and have nothing to do with the exact moment that we are living in.  Convoluted and detailed, they become ingrained in our current consciousness as if they were actually happening.

All of this thinking and imagining is so easily triggered and yet so very difficult to stop.

Difficult, But Not Impossible

With the latest techniques in neurolinguistics programming (NLP) and Timeline Therapy®, both the anxiety triggers and the resultant behaviours and feelings can be not only understood and managed but also eliminated.  Through identification of the root cause of the anxiety, the inherent anxious thoughts and beliefs that have been running repeatedly and unconsciously in our brains can be understood and replaced with more positive and productive thoughts.

This easy, effortless and quick change starts to have major and immediate positive impact on our day-to-day lives.  Joy and ease returns.  Life becomes easier.  Deep, restful sleep starts to become the norm.  Overall life becomes different, better, lighter…

Finding your anxiety triggers can change your life in profound ways

If you’re not reading this on my website, you can visit it here www.itcanbedifferent.ca for more information and to see how I can help you find your triggers so that you can imagine, believe and break through to a new, anxiety-free you.

You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,


What is Anxiety?

what is anxiety

What is anxiety?  How do you know if you have it?  And if you suspect that you do have it or if you have been told you have it, how do you effectively and successfully deal with it?

There is no exact diagnosis for anxiety;it is an observation of symptoms. Some of them can be emotions a person is feeling and displaying and some of them can be physical symptoms that can be observed.

And if you do have these symptoms and if they are plaguing your life, what can you do about it?  Is it controllable?  Can it be overcome?  Can it be understood?  All very good questions and all questions that I have struggled with for most of my adult life and for which I have found some life-changing answers for.

In this blog and blogs to follow, I hope to help you identify the symptoms of anxiety. And to reassure you that you are not alone. If you do suffer from these symptoms then I hope to provide you with tools and techniques and even a therapeutic approach to managing and even overcoming them.

Does Everyone Have Anxiety?

Some level of anxiety is normal and anxiety can even be useful.  We should feel anxious before a job interview.  We should feel the jitters before going on a first date.  However, if you become overcome or even fixated with the anticipation of what’s to come and you find yourself not going to the job interview or opting to stay at home instead of going on that date, then the anxiety has taken a turn and has become detrimental.

As you know, anxiety exists to keep us all safe against real-life threats.  It is part of being human.  It was meant to get us up and running when that wholly mammoth was making a charge towards us.

For Some Anxiety is a Crippling Constant

But for some of us, anxiety has become overwhelming and constant and it rears up sometimes over incidental or even unreal threats.  When this happens, life can become a true misery and suffering can be exhausting and relentless.  Even low-level yet constant anxiety can lead to problems at work, at home and even with one’s health.

Understanding Anxiety is the First Step to Overcoming It

To expect a complete elimination of anxiety would be irrational and not appropriate for your emotional and physiological health.  However, understanding, managing and overcoming unwarranted and damaging anxiety is within your grasp and a life of calm and peace is very much on the horizon.

In my next blog, I am going to describe what anxiety feels like for most people and how it can be easily and effortlessly eliminated.  It can be different and it starts with awareness and understanding.

I invite you to share your experience with anxiety in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration. To book your complimentary consultation, please click here.

To our health and wellbeing,