7 Grounding Techniques To Calm Anxiety When You’re This Close To Losing It

Because it happens to all of us. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life. But as I’ve gotten older I learned to rewire my brain and spank those demons and make them pay.

And you can too.

No one is immune to feeling anxious at least on occasion. And no matter who or what it is that sparks your pending eruption, knowing how to calm down the anxiety and anger you feeling when you’re seriously this close to losing it can save you and those around you a lot of collateral damage.

Life happens, and a simple chain of events can slowly stoke a fire within you. Then all it takes is one “he said/she said” or “they did/they didn’t” to push you across the threshold into this close-to-losing-it territory.

Once you’ve learned some effective grounding techniques and coping skills for calming anxiety, calling upon them can be far more empowering than impulsively unleashing your fury ever will be.

Here are seven tips on how to calm down when you’re feeling anxious using simple grounding techniques and positive coping skills.

1. Excuse yourself, gracefully

Leave the room, the situation, the area, or park the car, but get yourself to a safe place. That can even mean staying right where you are until the heat of it subsides.

It may be a big test of your inner strength not to storm out of a situation while huffing, puffing, slamming chairs and doors, but do it with grace anyway.

Depending on the circumstance, leaving may not be possible or ideal. Take a deep breath before asking for a time out (or simply informing them that you are taking one), and be sure to do so in a calm and controlled way — even if you have to fake it.

Graceful exits may also mean hitting pause by drinking a glass of water and feeling it dampen your fire. If no water is handy, you can imagine it.

Leaving in a civilized way, either literally or virtually through a pause, versus going into full throttle bulldozer mode can be the step that helps quell your eruption from spewing.

2. Put pen to paper

Intense anxiety or anger can be vanquished by saying what you feel you have to say on paper rather than directly to the object of your frustration.

Kick it old school by handwriting everything that is on your mind so you can vent about this current situation.

The benefits of handwriting as opposed to typing it into a text message or email are twofold:

  • You can’t accidentally click send and unleash your unfiltered thoughts, feeling, and words into someone’s inbox
  • When you finish venting, you can shred the pages with your bare hands (another bonus), leaving no digital trace that may inadvertently be found later

Handwriting has been proven more cathartic than typing, and as well as to help improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills. And being this close to losing it needs solving.

And as explained by Eric Grunwald of MIT’s Global Studies and Languages Department, “Freewriting, a writing strategy developed by Peter Elbow in 1973, is similar to brainstorming but is written in sentence and paragraph form without stopping. Thus, it [increases[ the flow of ideas and reduces the chance that you’ll accidentally censor a good idea,” which can add another level of efficacy in reducing your angst.

3. Visualize the old heave-ho

Fantasizing about flipping the desk over, clearing the table in one swipe, or playing Frisbee with your laptop. It feels good and satisfying, doesn’t it?!

Visualization, also known as imagery, has been a tool employed by Olympians and other elite athletes for decades, and there is much evidence backing its efficacy for putting desired outcomes into motion without ever leaving the room.

How far can you imagine your laptop will actually fly? How well does it bounce?

Keeping your action-packed fantasy in your head allows you to see the action, feel your muscles contracting, hear the thud of your desk, taste and smell the scene in excruciating detail, without leaving an unpleasant mess to clean up afterward.

When you are this close to losing it, you are so wrapped up in the instant gratification of the moment that you don’t see the final scene — the one where you have to pick up the pieces and clean up the debris, all while shrouded in regret, remorse, guilt, and shame for literally following through with your actions.

4. Get tactile

When you are in overdrive and your foot is fully depressed on the accelerator on the thisclose freeway, take the off-ramp by redirecting some resources from that feeling and shifting them to a tactile action like counting your toes.

With the bulk of your attention invested in your current state, very little of you is connected to the physical.

Whether you are standing or sitting, wiggle your toes and notice how many you can feel. Press each individual toe into your shoe and count them, one toe and one foot at a time. Repeat and repeat again.

By counting your toes, you begin to re-ground yourself. You can go further by scanning your body and noticing how your shoe feels or how the fabrics you are wearing feel against your body or what the chair you are sitting in feels like.

This is especially effective when you are in a situation you cannot dismiss yourself from. Tuning into your body helps to calm the mind, and therefore, your emotions.

5. Catch your breath

When in a high emotional state, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, which in turn moves you closer to losing it because it’s like fanning the flames of a fire to burn bigger.

Box breathing or four-square breathing is a grounding technique used by Navy SEALs you can put into action no matter where you are and is a highly effective way to get back into control of yourself when things are reeling out of control.

  • Inhale slowly to the count of five
  • Hold for a count of five
  • Exhale slowly to the count of five
  • Hold for a count of five
  • Repeat

As Healthline reports: “According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s sufficient evidence that intentional deep breathing can actually calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This system regulates involuntary body functions such as temperature. It can lower blood pressure and provide an almost immediate sense of calm.”

Deep breathing also delivers more oxygen to the muscles you are clenching as they begin to release with each cycle you repeat, essentially disarming the cortisol accumulation simultaneously.

6. Get physical

Dropping down and doing ten push-ups to burn off your anxious or angry energy may not be appropriate at the time, but taking yourself out for a brisk walk can help.

Being in nature helps calm the sympathetic nervous system (your “fight, flight or freeze” response), and putting your pent-up energy into your pace can help to return you to calm.

Even when you can’t get outside to commune with nature, you can use the power of your mind to take you wherever you decompress best.

Maybe your happy place is a white sandy beach where the ocean waves wash all your stresses away. Or perhaps it’s riding down the open highway on your motorcycle, sitting under a tree, or climbing a mountain.

Creating or recalling an image that brings life back into perspective is only a thought away.

7. Grab onto gratitude

Chances are, in a moment when you are trying to figure out how to calm down, you are as far away from feeling grateful as you can get.

However, you always have the power of choice, and flexing your gratitude muscle may effectively diffuse the situation.

Bring to mind someone who you are wholly grateful for, or think of ten things you are grateful for in your life. Feel that gratitude infuse your body and mind.

We cannot feel fully grateful or fully enraged at the same time, so go with the positive feelings gratitude evokes.

Most importantly, you can think about how grateful you will feel for not losing it when you don’t, as well as how proud you are of yourself for keeping it together in this volatile moment in time. Remind yourself that feeling this close to losing it is temporary, and gratitude is the long game.

Keeping a gratitude journal and choosing to be intentionally grateful for the people and things that add value to your life helps sustain you in times like this.

Gratitude acts as an antidote to stress. The benefits of giving thanks in our life are endless, especially helping us to build our resilience overall.

Be aware that not any one of these tips is guaranteed to work for you every single time you need to calm yourself down.

You need to find your combination of tools to get you on the other side of losing it, and all are most effective when sampled and practiced before you need them.

Regardless of how few or how many you need to use these techniques and skills, it’s worth the effort, in the end, to find what works best for you.

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Wildwood Daze – The Big Flamingo

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1971

This little story takes place a year after my father bought the house at the shore in Wildwood. It was a magical time. We were the only kids I knew that had a shore house and could disappear from the neighborhood in Philly for the entire summer. I remember when I would come home at the end of August my friend RJ didn’t even recognize me at first. “All I saw was this kid with a brown face with white hair!” That’s how tan we all were when we got home after spending July and August on the beach.

Undated Travel Souvenir Brochure Boat Cruises Capt George Sinns Big Flamingo NJ - Advintage Plus

My family obviously wanted to take advantage of all of the wonderful activities the seashore had to offer. The boardwalk, with is wonderful amusement rides and games of chance, the beach, Winterwood, Cape May, mini-golf, and movies.

One day I was probably working on the architectural design of some elaborate sandcastle with my dad and sisters. This cool refurbished blue PT boat cruised by out beyond the waves. I asked my father about it and he told me it was an old warship converted into a sightseeing boat.

j7p3T.jpg

It looked fun, but there was an even bigger boat that did tours through the inland waterway and out into the ocean for the tourists. That was the Big Flamingo.  I always thought it was called the pink flamingo because of its obvious color, but that’s the real name.

1980 Capt. Sinn's Big Flamingo Sightseeing Cruiser Boat Wildwood Crest NJ PC | eBay

I wanted to take a ride on the pink one because it was bigger and looked cooler. I remember reading about it in a brochure we had lying around the house. The tri screw, twin-engine sounded like the more powerful ship. I wasn’t a fan of heights or deep water so the bigger boat just seemed safer to me.

Capt. George Sinn’s “Big Flamingo”. The Wildwoods’ largest sightseeing cruiser – the 85 foot triple Diesel Air Sea Rescue boat, the former P444, sails 10:30 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. daily from Sinn’s Dock, Cardinal Road, and Park Boulevard, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey.

So dad took us out on the Big Flamingo one evening. My mom didn’t go because she stayed home with baby Gabrielle. I also believe like me, my mom didn’t like feeling dizzy or off balance. We both ate Dramamine for long car rides and always felt a little nauseous when it came to any kind of weird motion.

Illness caused by motion during travel. Travel by car, air, or boat all can cause motion sickness. Motion sickness usually goes away when the motion stops. Symptoms include fatigue, uneasiness, dizziness, and vomiting.
Focusing the eyes on objects straight ahead may help. Avoid overeating, alcohol, and smoking before travel. Oral or patch medications can prevent or treat symptoms.

I remember she once told me that she went out to a restaurant with my dad at a nice restaurant near a harbor. She said she could see the boats going up and down outside the window and she started feeling seasick. We were the same when it came to any unstable movement in our surroundings.

But Dramamine never came into play when thoughts of going out on a huge ship that toured the bay and then a little bit out into the ocean and back. Me, Janice, April and my dad all went on the cruise and it was amazing! It was the first time I’d ever been on a boat and it was super fun! Another great tradition was born for our summers in Wildwood!

Here’s a cute little song to go with the above story.

 

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1972

Wildwood NJ BIG FLAMINGO boat cruise showcard original | #42663641

Here we are a year later and one of the things we kids definitely wanted to do was get back on the Big Flamingo! Capt. Sinn’s giant tour boat docked back in Otten’s Harbor.

So, one fine evening we all headed over there to board the boat for another cool adventure.

Off we go on the boat and it cruises along in the bay through the inland waterway. It was a lovely evening as the sun set over the grassy sound. Good times!

As we rounded the southwestern point of the island, down around Diamond Beach beyond Wildwood Crest, we entered the Atlantic Ocean. This was the best part of the tour. As twilight approached, the ship headed northward, and if you looked off to your left you could see the whole boardwalk. It was a dazzling vision of lights, amusement rides, and music. Probably the best view of Wildwood at night from afar. A view you’d never get to see as a kid.

My favorite spot to stand on the deck was in the absolute front of the bow. It was the best place to be on the ship. You really experienced the power of the ship cutting through the ocean.

But what began to happen was completely unexpected. The ship began to encounter ground swells. A groundswell is a long-period group of waves created by a distant storm system over long distances, at least 2,000 miles away from the coast. The majority of groundswells are produced by mid-latitude depressions between 30 and 60 degrees, and travel from west to east, swinging towards the Equator.

No one told me this could happen, but there was no way anyone could have known what was happening. What this means is, instead of the big ship cruising along placidly in the sea, it begins to go up and down in a sickening repetitive movement. Not little rolling waves. I’m talking this huge ship goes up two stories and then comes back down, causing a jarring feeling in your stomach. This happens over, and over, and over again. This is how people become seasick. It’s a normal occurrence, but being a kid I was absolutely terrified.

My dad told me to stay where I was and just ride it out. I think what made it so horrifying for me was, last year I had a great time. I felt safe and had a wonderful time. Now I was stuck on a boat in the ocean and it felt like it was out of control. It doesn’t matter how big the boat is, it’s simply no match for the power of the sea. If it wants to toss you around, it’s going to. There’s nothing you can do but ride it out.

Apparently, people were getting sick all over the boat. At least I wasn’t alone. My dad and sister Janice were close by, but it was the unexpected, trapped feeling that gripped me. That was the worst part. It was a sudden horror that washed over me again and again.

The captain turned the ship around halfway through the tour and headed back to the bay. We had nearly made it back into the calm water of the bay when I began vomiting. I just chundered right over the side. The wind was blowing, and I remember my dad trying to catch the blowback of my technicolor yawn with his hands. He just didn’t want my puke to splash back on the other guests. (Always the respectful gentleman)

I felt a bit better when we finally got back to the dock, but was badly shaken by this experience. I had always had anxiety since I was little and this sort of event really rattled my psyche. My sister Janice was fine and I think April was okay as well, but I felt a bit shattered after that event. My mind went from trusting a fun event that turned into a terrifying, embarrassing nightmare the second time around.

These are the type of wacky events you laugh off after they happen and you simply chalk them up to, “well, that was awful.”

But the next morning I woke up with an anxiety attack. I didn’t know what anxiety was back then. I was just overcome with sudden fear again. People who don’t suffer from anxiety simply don’t understand. They’re all fine the next day. Me… basket case. That feeling of losing control or going crazy. Heart palpitations or chest pain. Feeling like you’re going to pass out. Trouble breathing or choking sensations are all part of those types of attacks.

It actually traumatized me. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt nauseous. I felt fear. I didn’t want to go to the beach, or near any kind of water. It was an overwhelming post-traumatic terror I had never felt before. But of course, nobody else understands it because they aren’t afflicted with that sort of chemical makeup in their brains. It really sucks.

But my mom was very understanding and just let me take it easy for a couple of days around the house and neighborhood. My mom and I shared some of the same fears and it runs in our side of the family. On the other hand, my father and sister Janice are more stable and they simply go forward. Little April was unaffected by it all because she’s simply tough.

After a few days, my father wanted to take us over to a spot called Dad’s Place Marina. It was a great spot to go with family & friends. Everybody knew about the place but I had never been there. I had heard it was a neat place to go fishing and especially crabbing. I had never gone crabbing but it sounded like a fun thing to do.

My dad had found a couple of old metal rusty crab traps in the storage room behind the house. He asked me if I wanted to go. He said it was just a dock on the bay, and I could walk back onto the shore any time I wanted. I liked the idea of the escape route and agreed to go with him and Janice.  So my mom took April and baby Gabby to the beach and we drove over to Dad’s place in our VW minibus.

When we got out there, my dad bought a couple of new crab traps and some squid for bait and we were good to go. Crabbing is a very passive activity and it’s probably what I needed to overcome my fear of the water and acclimate myself to being near it.

Dad’s Place

1950s/60s Good Fishing and Crabbing, Dad's Place, Wildwood, NJ Postcard / HipPostcard

It turned out to be a fun day, and we caught lots of blue point crabs. (Those are the ones you want for eating, not those little spotted ones that grab your toe in the surf.) It was fun to drop the trap off the edge of the dock on its line and simply wait. After a while, you’d pull it up periodically to check your trap. Sometimes you’d have a crab or two. I even caught a tiny sea robin in mine! I was shocked you could catch a fish with a crab trap.

So, the trip to Dad’s Place and the day of crabbing with my sister and father, sort of reset me. After that, I was fine and resumed trips to the beach and playing in the ocean.

But I never set foot on that goddamn Big Flamingo ever again!

And… here’s a song that seems appropriate for what happened above.

 

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8 Things Guys Worry About – But Shouldn’t Tips

Guys aren’t immune to entertaining silly, irrational thoughts on occasion. Unlike women, we’re just generally better at hiding the things that we needlessly worry about.

From the size of our package to our perfectly-adequate incomes, guys regularly stress over things that would probably make women laugh. So, if you’re a guy reading this, start taking notes: Here are eight things that you probably worry about, but shouldn’t.

Finding a Solution to Everything

Generally speaking, guys are known for being problem solvers. We see a problem and we naturally want to fix it. Because why else would you complain if you don’t seek a solution?

Though it sounds logical enough, this practical approach may not be what your girlfriend is looking for when she unleashes her problems on you. Sometimes, she just wants to let her frustrations out—that’s it.

Don’t stress so much about finding a solution anytime she comes to you with a problem. Instead, ask her whether she wants advice or not. If she doesn’t, then you can sit back and not worry about coming up with a solution she clearly doesn’t want to hear.

Showing Emotion

It’s not unmanly to show emotion and talk about your feelings. In fact, showing emotion and being vulnerable may be more important for men than it is for women.

Studies have shown that guys who regularly suppress their emotions and don’t seek out help when they need it may turn to harmful coping strategies instead, such as substance abuse and risk-taking behaviors. In a 2008 study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, men were more likely to crave alcohol when they experienced negative emotions compared to women.

So, go ahead: Let it all out. If anyone calls you a sissy for crying or admitting that you’re depressed, feel free to show them the door.

Having Perfect Skin All the Time

Some guys are lucky enough to never experience adult acne, while others just aren’t so fortunate. If your face is breaking out all of a sudden, it’s truly not the end of the world.

If you’re seriously stressing over the pimple in your nose, then you might just be making the problem worse. In a 2017 study published in Acta Dermato-Venereologica, researchers found a strong association between stress levels and the severity of acne in subjects with mild to moderate acne.

Bottom line? Try to relax! Get some exercise, practice meditation and listen to soothing music. It will do both you and your skin some good.

And Having the Perfect Body

We won’t lie to you: Many women do enjoy rippling abs and bulging biceps on a guy. However, women might be more attracted to your body flaws than you might think.

Your dad bod in particular could be a hit with some women. Several surveys have indicated that the popularity of the dad bod is on the rise, with many women reportedly finding it more attractive than washboard abs.

You don’t need to look like you just got done with a Men’s Health photoshoot to land the girl of your dreams. Just focus on treating your body with kindness and improving the things that are in your power to change.

Other Guys Stealing Your Girl

If you’re seriously worried that some handsome guy is going to swoop in and steal your girl out of the blue, then there are two possible reasons for your concern. You either have serious relationship anxiety and need to work out your deep-rooted insecurities or your relationship is already on shaky ground to begin with.

In both cases, it probably wouldn’t hurt to try therapy. There’s no shame in seeking professional help. It could potentially save a perfectly good relationship and make you much happier in the long-term.

The Size of Your Male Member

Admit it, you’ve probably worried about your penis size at some point in your life. But once you take a good, hard look (pun intended) at the research, you’ll quickly see that you have nothing to worry about at all.

A 2007 study published in BJU International surveyed more than 50,000 heterosexual men and women. In the survey, a whopping 85 percent of women were satisfied with their partner’s penis size, while only 55 percent of men were satisfied. Two of the studies found that women preferred wider penises to longer ones.

Furthermore, studies have shown that few women can orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. Rather than mope about your completely average penis size, you should instead be focusing on giving her the best clitoral orgasm of her life.

Impressing Everyone Around You

Who doesn’t want to be liked? It’s common for younger guys to go out of their way to impress their girlfriend, coworkers, boss and even random people on the street.

But let’s face it, trying to impress everyone is absolutely exhausting. Life is much too short to constantly be worrying about what everyone and their mother thinks about you.

The only thoughts that should matter to you are from the people who love you no matter what. Once you realize that and finally let go of your constant need to impress, you’ll likely feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.

Your Income

No matter what your current income, you probably wish it was higher. How do we know? Because apart from perhaps Bill Gates, there is no guy on the planet who doesn’t want more money.

By all means, ask for a raise at work and climb the career ladder. Just don’t fall into the trap of believing that a higher income will magically solve your problems or land you a girlfriend.

Besides, think about how many guys are living happy lives and have super-hot girlfriends, despite living on salary that’s barely above minimum wage. The only difference between these guys and you is your gratitude—or lack thereof.

Worry Less, Live More

We all have anxieties that get the best of us at times. The key is to not allow them to steal your happiness. None of the things on this list are worth the space they potentially take up in your brain. So, kick them to the curb, focus on the things that truly matter and you’ll likely be much happier for it.

 

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What It’s Really Like to Be Sober Curious: When an Alcohol “Break” Becomes Permanent

In the spring of 2018, 42-year-old Kim Banks found herself in a lonely place. Struggles with anxiety and depression interfered with life as a wife, mother of 5-year-old twin boys, and her work in public relations. Despite self-improvements like daily exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits, Banks wasn’t happy.

“I was feeling lots of anxiety and depression, along with irritability, even though I was trying to do all the right things,” she says.

In the back of her mind, Banks describes a nagging thought, “Give up the alcohol.”

“I was in a constant, daily argument with myself,” she says. At the root of was the question: “Should I drink tonight?”

Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
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Banks ended each workday with a few glasses of wine. On weekend nights out with her husband, she describes “going a little hard,” and leaving a wave of bad feelings for the next day.

“I knew I needed to eliminate alcohol, but it was the last thing I wanted to eliminate,” she says. “I really enjoyed wine, and I definitely bought into the idea alcohol enhances experiences,” she continues. “Tell me to give anything else up but the wine.”

Initially, Banks describes a curiosity around “taking a 30-day-break” from alcohol. She researched online for information about what impact alcohol has on the body. “I mainly searched for success stories from people who gave up drinking for 30 days or more,” she explains.

Her online searches turned up first-hand accounts of people like herself, who hadn’t suffered major life-altering consequences from drinking, but saw their drinking as problematic all the same. Others identified as “alcoholic” but blended traditional 12-step recovery with other support among fellow “sober curious” followers.

Banks made the decision to go alcohol-free. “I was thinking, ‘This isn’t making me happy anymore, but it’s ingrained in my daily habits,'” she says.

How Giving Up Alcohol Became a Wellness Trend

Ruby Warrington’s 2018 book Sober Curious is something of a guidebook for this less-threatening, label-free, booze-less trend. The book describes Warrington’s “gray-area problem drinking.” Uncomfortable with the label “alcoholic,” she developed a following of like-minded non-drinkers via her book, podcasts, and social media. Banks is one of many who either gave up drinking altogether or drink more mindfully.

Sober coach Rae Dylan lives in New York City and sees the trend up close. Cities like New York City and Chicago are seeing a rise of sober-free bars and events. Instagram and Facebook pages devoted to alcohol-free living boast followers in the tens of thousands.

“I see it as part of what’s happening all around us,” says Dylan, who works with recovering addicts and alcoholics requiring protection from the press, nutritional guidance, mental health issues, medication, and detox. “People are more interested in a healthy lifestyle and part of not-drinking is part of this healthy culture which recognizes it’s not healthy the way Americans drink,” she adds.

In particular, the idea of not drinking in what some consider awkward social situations, like a bar atmosphere, is encouraging, Dylan believes. “It’s a good thing; the movement gives younger people, who may feel pressure to drink or do drugs, another outlet,” she says.

“Instead of feeling pressure to drink,” Dylan continues, “the focus comes off labels like ‘alcoholic’ and, instead, people focus on having a cool virgin mojito with maybe organic cane juice.”

Finding Like-Minded Non-Drinkers

Banks admits her first steps into a sober lifestyle weren’t easy. Friends and family didn’t object, but they had difficulty supporting what they couldn’t understand.

“I was surrounded with casual drinkers who didn’t understand why someone would choose to give up alcohol without being an alcoholic,” she says. “I wasn’t a rock-bottom alcoholic, so it wasn’t a black-or-white issue for me.”

Instead, the issue, like Warrington describes, was more of a gray area. “I was tired, my skin was breaking out and I had tried everything else,” she continues. “I knew in my heart what I needed to cut.”

Finding support from other non-drinkers meant turning to the internet and social media. At first, Banks was unaware she was part of the sober curious movement. Her first steps going wine-free centered on setting up an Instagram page to record an initial 30-day break from alcohol. “I would post things like, ‘This is my second day without alcohol!’”

Today, Banks has nearly 6,500 Instagram followers celebrating her alcohol-free experiences. She credits this early support with her sober lifestyle today. “There were so many supportive people on Instagram,” Banks says. “I felt like I had these online pen pals who really got what I was going through.”

She describes the connections as uplifting without shame. Followers celebrate her victories and help her navigate rough days. Plus, she knows she has 24-hour access to a community of support. If she and her husband go out for the evening, she’s only an Instagram away from others who are also abstaining from drinks on a weekend night.

Trend vs. Lifestyle

Living in Greenville, SC, Banks doesn’t have the luxury of countless, trendy sober bars to visit. But, time away from drinking has made it easier and less appealing to go backward. She says she focuses on the reality of drinking versus the fantasy.

During a recent family vacation, Banks said the idea of having a drink sounded tempting. She reminded herself, however, of the reality behind the “one drink,” which included, for her, likely more than one drink, a bad night’s sleep and heavy anxiety in the morning. “In the beginning it was so hard, but now I’ve had so many experiences under my belt, and I feel more confident,” she explains.

“I think through the drink,” she explains. “I admit to myself I have the urge, but I know the ‘idea’ is way better than any glass of wine.”

The days of pushing through moments of temptation are fewer and further between. If she needs support, she knows her Instagram followers are always nearby, along with other sober curious friends she’s made on the journey.

Her friends and family are still casual drinkers, but Banks has been abstaining from alcohol for the past year and a half, and has no intention of going back to her evening wine. “I love waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning without a hangover,” she says.

Enjoying sober experiences has left Banks feeling healthier, more focused, and more present for her husband and children. In addition, her family’s finances have improved without the steady purchase of wine. She says her husband is proud of her accomplishment, and her children are enjoying a more active family life with hiking and trips.

“There are so many physical and emotional benefits from intentionally taking a break from alcohol,” says Banks. “It opens a whole new world. I’m a better friend, wife, and mom,” she adds. For now, she remains alcohol-free, one day at a time.

 

 

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Why Anxiety Increases Sex Drive In Some People

It’s all about emotions and attachment.

Have you ever received bad news, and all you’ve wanted to do was have sex? Or, perhaps sex is literally the last thing you want to do when you have anxiety?

As a sex therapist trained in affect-focused therapy, I know that emotions, anxiety, and sex are connected. Here’s why sometimes they mix — and  sometimes they don’t.

What exactly are emotions?

Emotions are basic evolutionary processes that have developed to keep us alive. They act like compasses, telling us what our needs are in all situations.

In their rawest state, feelings have specific purposes. And if we listen to them and do what they’re telling us to do —  we feel better.

Positive feelings usually urge us toward connection with others, whereas negative ones work to keep us safe.

Generally speaking, negative emotions such as worry and fear dampen our sex drive because their prime goal is to save us from potential threats.

Hormones are spurred by emotions.

When something dangerous happens, like someone pointing a gun to our head, our body springs into action, creating the stress hormone cortisol, getting us ready to fight, flee, or freeze.

This is a good thing, because getting horny when someone wants to pop our head off, could potentially lead to our death.

The thing is though, worry and fear can also be ignited by things that aren’t actually dangerous  —  at least, not on a physiological level.

These are all examples of situations our brain might perceive as a real threat:

  • Our partner making advances in bed
  • A big presentation at work
  • An erection that suddenly falters

If sex has turned into a stressful duty where you feel the need to perform by having a long-lasting erection or multiple orgasms , worry and fear will inhibit our libido.

Can emotions affect your sex drive? Most definitely.

For most of us, negative emotions put a damper on our libido.

Meanwhile, for others, worry, fear, and anxiety can drive them toward sex  as opposed to away from it.

And this has a lot to do with their attachment styles and patterns.

Attachment styles inform how our sex drive responds to negative emotions.

Your attachment pattern affects your relationships. And to understand why some people prefer to screw away their anxiety ,  you need to know what attachment is.

Attachment, just like our emotions, is a basic human drive developed to ensure we bond with our babies and, thus ,  take care of them.

Our attachment patterns differ, depending on the quality of the bond established with our primary caregivers.

The quality not only affects our relationship with our parents  but  it also governs how we relate to other people in the future , romantically or otherwise.

Secure versus insecure attachment patterns.

Roughly speaking, a secure attachment pattern leads to more balanced, healthy relationships, whereas an insecure attachment pattern leads to more issues in our relationships and, sometimes, more sexual problems, too.

One of the two insecure attachment patterns that can be developed in early childhood — that can lead to a higher sex drive — is the anxious-preoccupied attachment pattern.

This pattern emerges as a response to a home-environment with emotional inconsistency.

Perhaps our parents showered us with love and attention at random; sometimes meeting our emotional needs and other times minimizing or ignoring them.

When our primary caregivers are inconsistent and unpredictable we develop clinginess as a means of getting the love and attention we as a species so desperately crave.

As toddlers, this meant we needed to scream loudly in order to have our needs met, or cling to our parents’ bodies in order for them to hear us.

And so this pattern continues into adulthood.

We meet someone we fancy and we latch on quickly, clinging to them to receive confirmation and feel loved. One of the prime ways we receive this validation and affection  is through sex.

Why does an anxious-ambivalent attachment pattern increase sex drive?

There are several reasons an anxious-ambivalent attachment pattern can create a ferocious appetite for sex. One of them is that society holds sex in a relationship in high regard.

We equate sex with love and therefore, to have sex is to, literally, “make love.”

This pairing of sex and love is perhaps best seen in our western society’s quest for “the one” and our goal of life-long monogamy.

The whole concept of monogamy is that all of our wants and desires are replenished by this one person.

However, it also means if we’re not satisfied by our partner or if we even desire another person sexually, there’s something wrong with us.

And because of the monogamous ideal and the way it links sex and love ,  sex serves as one of the ultimate ways of getting close and feeling cared for.

It can validate us and make us feel like we’re truly seen  —  no matter what attachment pattern we possess.

But, especially, for those of us who are anxious-ambivalent, sex can be the fastest route to feeling valued by our partners.

On the flip side, this means not having sex can be construed as a sign that our relationship is over or our partner has fallen out of love with us.

In order for this not to happen, our attachment pattern drives us toward a higher libido, trying to ensure our relationship’s survival. And, in a more philosophical sense , our own.

By having sex with our partner, we’re safeguarding ourselves from being left on our own ,  the way we felt when our primary caregivers were emotionally inconsistent.

Our sex drive isn’t only sparked by society’s views of sex.

It’s also ignited by the emotions and states that are triggered by our attachment pattern — worry and anxiety.

When we’re anxious-ambivalent, we might suffer more from regular worry and anxiety because relationships, in and of themselves, trigger it.

Sex can be a great way to regulate negative emotions.

The cortisol coursing through our veins doesn’t dampen our drive, as it does for most people who have a secure attachment pattern — it amps it.

Regulating emotions through sex doesn’t have to be a negative thing. In fact, a lot of people, feel like it’s a great way of dealing with difficult feelings.

The problem arises when you feel the only way to relieve anxiety, stress, or worry   is through sex.

Without any other strategies to regulate negative feelings, sex can turn into a compulsive act. Be it through masturbation or having sex with a partner or two.

So, when asking yourself if emotions can affect your sex drive, it’s important to take both feelings and attachment patterns into consideration.

Everyone’s libido is affected by their emotions.

For those who have an anxious-ambivalent attachment pattern, sexual desire can be ramped up by negative emotions and for those who are securely attached, they shut it down.

It’s all completely normal. You’re completely normal.

 

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