~ Archive for Uncategorized ~

Anxiety and the Horrible Breakup


So your relationship is over? Whether it is a divorce, a breakup with a long time partner or the dissolution of something that you felt would have potential, breakups are painful. My clients report being in literal physical pain after a breakup, and many do not know how to soothe the pain or where to turn to get better. Let’s discuss the energy of ending a relationship.


When a relationship ends there is a grieving process that is rivaled only by death. I have heard some say that death might be easier.  I believe it was Alice Cooper that said he felt like  “the man with no skin” after a breakup. This is echoed by my clients over and over. One client stated that she felt like someone had poured gasoline on her and lit her on fire. This is no small pain.


Anxiety prevails alongside the pain as the major emotion that is reported to me. What will I do now? Will she come back? Is it really over? Will I ever really heal? Having to rebuild a life that you thought would be different is a monumental task when you are in pain and twisted in knots with anxiety. Doubting your ability to make decisions and lack of confidence in yourself comes with the blow to the self esteem. Learning who you are all over again seems impossible, since it feels like half of your identity walked out the door.


I have been told that the feeling of grief of losing someone is the same feeling of loving someone. The difference is the story that the brain is telling about the sensation. Since you are already in that energetic space in your body, you can leverage the energy by focusing on something that you love and dwelling on that instead of the lost partner. Learning to shift out of the energy of grief and into the energy of love is very helpful in transforming the pain. Transform the focus from the lost partner to your dog, or your child, or even your wounded self can help change the story your mind is telling your body.


Allowing the pain and anxiety to flow through your body without resistance is so important. If you resist the waves of pain and anxiety they will set up residence in your body and will be unremitting. If you can focus on your body, visualize the pain there as transitory and actually visualize it passing through you you will find some comfort.


Common advice like the “no contact rule” is hard to follow, but I promise if you block their number, unfriend them on Facebook, and give yourself a chance to breathe, you will feel a small surge in anxiety at first, but you will notice a feeling almost like a buffer between you and the energetic tie to the partner. There may be times that feel almost like panic when you realize that those ties of communication are cut, but if you breathe through the panic, and get really grounded (notice the sensations in your body, be aware of what is going on in the moment, feel your feet on the floor) the panic will pass.


Actually determine what your emotional needs are. Do you need to socialize? Friends are a life line during this time. Lean on them and let them meet some of your social needs. Do you need to spend some time in the cave? Stock up on comfort food and Kleenex and give yourself time alone to lick your wounds. Do you need to keep busy? Make some plans to start a project, finish one, or pitch in to help someone else with theirs. Really knowing what you need during this time will help you process the grief.


When you love someone, what you are really loving is how YOU feel when you think about that person. Given this, know that you can feel that way again about someone else because the feeling comes from within you. During a breakup it is hard to look for the gift. You will know that you are beginning to heal when you notice that you can look at the things you brought out of the relationship that made you stronger, helped you learn to love deeper, or that made you a better communicator.


In some people the discomfort passes quickly, in others it feels that it will never go away. Learning to function with the pain and anxiety is key to moving on and thriving after a breakup. Look for small things that bring you joy, notice the change of the seasons, really tune in to others, looking for things you have in common. Making deep connections with others is an activity that stimulates oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and can help ease the pain for awhile.


You will get better. One day you will wake up and notice that it does not hurt to breathe, or that you are looking forward to your day. When you can tell your story without wanting to cry you will know that healing is taking place. Until then, be very gentle with yourself. You deserve your love!


Carolyn Tucker LAPC is a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in anxiety. For more information call 770-789-0847.

Anxiety..What If I Am Not As Excited About My New Baby As I Expected?


New mother anxiety can be overwhelming. Not only do you wake up with a body you don’t recognize, a life that is nothing like the one glamorously portrayed in commercials, but you wake up with this tiny human in your home whom you may or may not connect with. Moms who do not feel immediately connected with their new bundles of joy report high levels of anxiety.

Inability to share these feelings is isolating. There may be reluctance to share with friends lest they be judged, families who minimize the feelings and spouses who may feel helpless or get their feelings hurt by the revelation. No matter what the reason, the new mom feels alone and guilty, and anxious that she is a “bad mother” or that she will never feel connected to this little person for whom she has total responsibility.

In therapy I attempt to normalize these feelings for the new mother. We all experience things differently. I do a screening for post partum mood disorders as well. This is frequently overlooked, and is a simple assessment to identify areas where the mother needs support. Medication is not always recommended. Many mothers want to continue nursing, and medication may compromise this. Nutritional support for the mother can be just as effective as prescription medication and allow the mother to continue nursing, which will enhance the bonding experience, and experience less side effects as well.

Working with the mother to develop bonding by encouraging the mother to notice the baby’s body language, vocalization cues and eye gaze is helpful. Once you start breaking down the baby’s attempts to communicate on a primal level sometimes a mom can step right into her role and be the mirror her baby needs.  Skin to skin contact and staring into the baby’s eyes helps stimulate oxytocin, the bonding hormone.

An exhausted mom is no help to anyone. A good schedule of self care activities is a must. Someone to hold the baby while mom takes an extended bubble bath or long hot shower can make her feel like she has won the lottery. Activities that stimulate the mother’s creative potential are helpful. Taking pictures of the baby can help her feel more connected. Scrapbooking while the baby is sleeping can stimulate those feelings of attachment as well. A mom must be engaged in activities that bring her joy. If she is feeling anxious about the baby usurping her life, then the opportunity to get out for a while during the baby’s nap may help her feel a little more like herself so that when she comes home she is better able to bond with her baby.

There are many reasons that a mom may not feel bonded to her baby in the beginning, some normal, some needing attention. The key is being aware of your feelings and being able to reach out to someone who will not judge you and will be able to ascertain whether you need additional support or not. Know that there are counselors available that can help you get on your feet and that can work with you to develop that relationship with your baby you desire.


Carolyn Tucker LAPC is a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in the treatment of anxiety with a special interest in perinatal and postpartum mood disorders. For more information see www.carolyntuckertherapist.com

Many new mothers feel guilty if they don’t bond with their babies right away.


Social Anxiety Over the Rainbow


According to Alan Downs in his book The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World. Gay men learn anxiety and anger early in their development. He refers to this development as velvet rage. “Velvet rage is the deep and abiding anger and anxiety that result from growing up in an environment when I learn that who I am as a gay person is unacceptable, perhaps even unlovable,” he explains. “This anger and anxiety push me at times to overcompensate and try to earn love and acceptance by being more, better, beautiful, more sexy – in short, to become something I believe will make me more acceptable and loved.”

“We have created a gay culture that is, in most senses, unlivable. The expectation is that you have the beautiful body, that you have lots of money, that you have a beautiful boyfriend with whom you have wonderful, toe-curling sex every night… none of us have that. To try to achieve that really makes us miserable. The next phase of gay history, I believe, is for us to come to terms with creating a culture that is livable and comfortable.”

There is a significant correlation between gay identity and social anxiety in research. Social anxiety is the extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations: Social anxiety can wreak havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it. People with symptoms of social anxiety often….

fear doing or saying something embarrassing in front of other people
worry about making a mistake or being judged by others
avoid speaking to others
fear meeting new people
blush, sweat, tremble, or feel nauseous when self-conscious
avoid social situations and giving speeches
may drink or use drugs to try to relieve their social fears

Researchers at the State University of New York investigated the occurrence of social anxiety in a sample of undergraduate gay and heterosexual men. Gay men reported greater social interaction anxiety, greater fear of negative evaluation, and lower self-esteem than their heterosexual counterparts. Gay men who were less comfortable and less open about their sexual orientation were more likely to experience anxiety in social interactions.

Is it any wonder that individuals who felt the primal fear of rejection, vilification and being ostracized as children and adolescents should develop a fear of social situations? I find that with my clients as we normalize the sexual orientation and work on developing a positive sexual identity and developing a positive, supportive social network that symptoms of social anxiety tend to diminish.

In my experience with my gay clients who suffer from anxiety, we always end up back in the childhood or adolescence. Rejection by parents of their own children, by peers, teachers or church because of their sexual orientation seems to produce a severe emotional impact. Having to lead an inauthentic life for fear of rejection or ridicule can produce a severe sense of core shame. Fear of being found out or judged creates a constant sense of tension or anxiety.

Being able to live an authentic life is key to reducing anxiety for persons of any sexual orientation, but especially for gay individuals who have felt forced to “wear a mask” hiding who they truly are. The mask forces an individual to expend huge amounts of anxiety causing energy projecting an image and worrying what will happen if they are found out. I find that with my gay clients, that getting support and only allowing people into their personal social network who are loving, nurturing and accepting is so helpful in mediating symptoms of anxiety. Taking small risks with safe people goes a long way towards increasing social esteem and diminishing social anxiety.

I have found the most powerful tool to helping my gay clients deal with their social anxiety is to have them talk about it, not only to me, their therapist, but to be open and transparent with their friends and family members about how they feel. Many clients report feeling ashamed of their shame. The most effective way to address shame is to expose it.

Social anxiety sufferers have negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their anxiety. If you have social anxiety, you may find yourself overwhelmed by thoughts like:

“I know I’ll end up looking like a fool.”
“My voice will start shaking and I’ll humiliate myself.”

“People will think I’m stupid.”
“I won’t have anything to say. I’ll seem boring.”

Challenging these negative thoughts, either through therapy or on your own, is one effective way to reduce the symptoms of social anxiety.The first step is to identify the automatic negative thoughts that underlie your fear of social situations. For example, if you‘re worried about an upcoming work presentation, the underlying negative thought might be: “I’m going to blow it. Everyone will think I’m completely incompetent.” The next step is to analyze and challenge the thoughts. It helps to ask yourself questions about the negative thoughts: “Do I know for sure that I’m going to be judged?” or “Even if I’m nervous, will people necessarily judge me?” Through this logical evaluation of your negative thoughts, you can gradually replace them with more realistic and positive ways of looking at social situations that trigger your anxiety.

Learning to become grounded and centered and addressing the symptoms in the body is very helpful. Identifying the anxious energy and allowing it to flow through the body instead of resisting it and allowing it to become trapped and persist is key. Visualizing the emotion as energy flowing into the body and allowing it to flow out of the body while breathing and staying present can bring quick relief.

Social anxiety is an issue that can be treated. Many have viewed it as something that must be tolerated, but with information, support, the proper interventions and occasionally medication, this condition can be addressed and mediated effectively allowing you to function more effectively and authentically, and to live the life you were born to live!

Anxiety and the Really Big Bad News


I have talked in past blogs about how to handle your anxiety when things get chaotic and interrupt your routine. Today I would like to discuss what happens when you get the really “big bad news”. A family member has cancer, the baby you are carrying has something wrong with it, you are getting a divorce. How do you cope? When anxiety goes from zero to warp speed and threatens never to leave, it feels like it may become a way of life. That terror that resides in your chest or the knot and nausea that come to dwell in your stomach are a constant reminder that your life may never be “normal” again.

The first thing to do when you get uncomfortable news is to focus on the felt sense of whatever emotion is evoked in your body. It could be that your muscles tense, you get a knot in your stomach, a tightness in your chest, or your breathing becomes short and rapid. Notice those symptoms, and actually do of the opposite of what your body wants to do. If you notice that it wants to tense up, then purposefully let your muscles go limp. If you tighten in your stomach, release the muscles and breathe relaxation into that area. If your breaths become short and rapid, make a point of taking slow deep breaths. This will help to stop that hormonal cascade that begins with a shot of adrenaline when you get upsetting news. If you intervene immediately it can prevent may unpleasant symptoms from taking root in your body.

Seeing emotions as literally being energy in motion in your body that want to be expressed (or actually squeezed out,) allows you to visualize allowing the energy to exist without resistance and to assist that energy in moving through the body in a way that minimizes the effect of those negative emotions. The key is not resisting the negative feeling. When a negative feeling is present we tend to tighten around it because we are afraid that if we allow it, it will get worse and become more unpleasant. Actually the opposite is true. When we allow the sensation to pass through like the lines passing across the screen of an EKG machine then we free our bodies up from become a home to that trapped energy.

Breathing properly is vital in this process. Slow deep nourishing breaths are in order. When “bad” things happen we forget to breathe. Slow deep nourishing breaths allow the energy to pass, and keep our bodies pH balanced.  A good balance of the in-and-out breath keeps the pH stable in the body.  Breathing in more increases acidity;  breathing out more creates alkalinity, as it gets rid of carbonic acid through the carbon dioxide we breathe out.  “Hyperventilating” means a lot of breathing out, so making us too alkaline, which has its problems like any imbalance (it may cause numbness or tingling in the extremities, lightheadedness, fainting); then one has to “breathe into a paper bag,” that is, breathe back in some of the acids we got rid of, to regain the proper balance of acids and bases in the blood. Paying attention to the body helps us balance the breathing.


Instead of receiving information as “good” or  “bad,” become curious about what you hear. It is easy to jump to conclusions based on what you have experienced in the past or by facts that you know or by stories that you have heard from others in your situation. Be curious about whether this situation HAS to play out like you would assume, with you “freaking out” and adopting a tragic story based on your negative feelings. Be curious if you have to freak out at all. Just because it is expected that you freak out, doesn’t mean that is the response that you have to have.  Instead, adopt a sense of wonder. “I wonder how this will change my life?” “I wonder what skill I will learn thorough this?” “I wonder what the gift will be in this for me?”


 I am not advocating denial of your circumstances, or a Pollyanna attitude, I am just stating that it seems many of us respond to unexpected news in ways that are reflexive, knee jerk reactions, in ways that we believe we are “supposed to” react. I wonder if we get centered and grounded by taking some deep breaths and focusing on feeling our bodily sensations for a moment (“I feel my feel on the floor, I feel the chair to my back, I feel the cool air in the room”) if we might buy ourselves the time to choose a different response? I wonder if choosing that different response might put us in that “road less traveled” place, a place that is more peaceful and honoring of the experience, and instead of bringing us a sure tragedy, might bring us a gift instead?

Bad news leaves you with the choice of how to react.

Anxiety, Authenticity and Getting Naked


anxiety |aNGˈzī-itē|
noun ( pl. anxieties )
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome: he felt a surge of anxiety.

authenticity |ˌôTHenˈtisitē|
the quality of being authentic: the paper should have established the authenticity of the documents before publishing them.

naked |ˈnākid|

2 [ attrib. ] (of something such as feelings or behavior) undisguised; blatant: naked, unprovoked aggression | the naked truth.

It seems anxiety symptoms are skyrocketing these days. People come into my office tied up in knots and paralyzed by symptoms such as fear, tension, shakiness, describing a lump in their chest or stomach and feelings of dread. Anxiety is a very unpleasant feeling, and yet it is pervasive in our society. We are overworked, underpaid and we barely have the time to do the things we “must” do, the things we “like” to do are a mere fantasy.

We do not have time anymore to cultivate supportive relationships in which we feel “safe.” We rush from work to the soccer game to home in time to throw dinner on the table and clean up just in time to go to bed and start all over again. Conversations at work are superficial, and soccer games are hardly times to deeply connect with people. We run around with our social “masks” on and lie and say we are doing fine as we juggle our responsibilities and we ache and are all alone on the inside.

Anxiety and Authenticity. What do the two words have in common you ask? Authenticity allows us to remove the mask, to share the fact that we struggle, to allow that we are not perfect and that we long for things we are not experiencing, that we are not happy or that we feel alone or that we are afraid we are not enough. To be authentic we must feel safe taking off the mask and sharing ourselves with others knowing that we will not be judged. In all of our busyness, we have neglected as a society to cultivate these safe relationships. We wander around thinking “If they REALLY knew me, would they love me?” And there is where the anxiety comes in.

We are afraid we will be found out. Afraid it will be discovered that we are not who we say we are, not who we wish we were. Afraid we will be rejected, neglected and abandoned if we share what our true needs are. Afraid to ask to be accepted and known, and to be loved anyway. Anxiety is the sense of inevitability that we will be found out, to be discovered, to be known, and that we are “not enough.”

How do we combat this eternal longing to be known, and to be loved anyway, to banish that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, when they finally figure out that we are a sham, and that what is on the inside is just a pile of broken pieces, not nearly as attractive as the package we have been presenting? We start engaging in purposeful revealing. I propose we get naked with one another.

Seeking out people that feel safe is key here. Develop one relationship at a  time where you can remove the mask and share your true thoughts and feelings and inadequacies. It is a risk, it is scary, but what if it enables you to drop the mask, and along with it to find out that you are acceptable just as you are? Imagine the honor you will feel when the other person takes off their mask too and becomes real before you, just as the velveteen rabbit became real. What if we stood before each other naked, with no defenses, in all of our ugliness and insufficiency, and just loved each other? Can you imagine how that might feel?

I know this sounds utopian and lofty, but if we start small, like actually stopping our busyness and listening and caring about the answer when we ask someone “How are you?” and providing a place of warmth and acceptance for them to share their true response, I think we will start to see a change in how we are seen and received. When you provide a safe loving place for people to exist, they can’t help but want to provide that back for you, and BAM! you have created a moment. String a series of moments of authenticity together and you have created a lifestyle. Get rid of the question “if they truly knew me would they love me?” and many of your feelings of anxiety would fade away.

Sometimes we have learned to be inauthentic from past hurts and events that have taught us our world is not a safe place. Before we can take that step towards removing the mask some of us may need a little guidance and help along the path. Counseling can help you reframe thoughts that are keeping you trapped in inauthenticity and anxiety. If you long to develop authentic, supportive relationships but feel you need to work through a few things before you get there, then counseling may be something you want to look into. Please find a qualified counselor if this is the case. You can reach me by phone at 770-789-0847, email at  carolyn at growhealchange.com, or via my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com if you would like a consultation. The feelings of relief you will have when you are finally able to take off that mask and BREATHE are so worth it! Get naked today!!

How to Cope With Infidelity and the Anxiety it Brings


In this age of technology and digital communication, I have seen a growing trend in my practice of serious technology related issues in relationships.  These issues can signal the beginning of the end for relationships as they can propel the couple to try to control each other and to descend deeper and deeper into codependency and mistrust.


Cell phones are wonderful things, they allow us to stay in constant communication in a myriad of ways, but they can be the source of much conflict. Text messages are a prime example. Communication with someone other than the partner can trigger insecurity and suspicion in a relationship and the informal nature of text messages can sometimes allow for communication to veer towards subjects that may be seen as inappropriate or that feel disrespectful to the other partner. Someone already prone to insecurity may be propelled to anger and jealousy by the discovery of messages to another.


Computers can be another source of pain. From Facebook to pornography, there are triggers everywhere that can cause hearts to constrict and fear to rule. Friend requests from former flames can cause more anxiety than a four-alarm fire, and private messages when discovered can damage trust and build walls.  It can seem like there is nowhere in the world that is safe from the potential “threat” to the relationship once the line is crossed.


It seems like the first response to these events is to “control” them. The wounded party may ask to see the offender’s text messages or view their computer history on a regular basis. Monitoring the phone records and promises not to delete anything until inspected become commonplace. It seems like once that first step to “monitor” is taken, the relationship becomes a playground for crazy making.


There are too many ways around being monitored for monitoring to be an effective means of achieving that feeling of safety. There are apps that allow you to receive texts on a server so that they never actually show on a phone, and ways to wipe and encrypt information on a hard drive so that it is never found. The person trying to feel safe because of the feeling of control that comes with being able to check the phone will exhaust himself or herself with having to think of all the ways they could be deceived.


Relationships can become so codependent and enmeshed once they head down this slippery slope that they hold no resemblance to the loving environment that was originally triggered by suspicion. Monitoring someone is futile. If someone wants to cheat they will. There is no surveillance mechanism strong enough to track someone who wants to be underground. This is hard news to hear for someone in love who simply wants to feel safe.


The first step in dealing with an infraction, whether infidelity, flirtation or mere miscommunication is to evaluate your boundaries. What are you willing to do or to put up with to stay in this relationship? Is the relationship worth saving? How much discomfort are you willing to bear? Are you willing to risk being hurt to love this person? For some the answer is no, and for some, staying in the relationship is worth the work it will take to stay there.


So how do you do it? You realize that you are in a relationship with a person who is separate from you who has the ability to make decisions on his or her own. You accept the fact that no matter what you do you cannot prevent yourself from being hurt when you love someone. The risk is always there. Then, you nail your feet to the floor and take a deep breath. This is the hard part.


Distress tolerance skills are useful when we are unable, unwilling, or it would be inappropriate to change a situation. Learning to coexist with discomfort can go a long way in increasing our quality of life. Sometimes learning a few skills can allow us to stay in a relationship and thrive versus intervening and trying to control and pronouncing the beginning of the end for the relationship.


Radical acceptance is the first step in distress tolerance. Acceptance means being willing to experience a situation as it is, rather than how we want it to be , it is a willingness to accept things as they are and to learn to exist with the fact. This doesn’t mean that what happened is ok, it merely means that it happened.


Repeatedly ‘turning the mind’ is useful as well.  To be in the actual situation you are in, rather than the situation you think you’re in, or think you should be in is a must.  Your mind is always going to give you other ideas, interpretations, reminding you of old strategies.  Each time your mind wanders and you notice these other thoughts and images, simply bring your attention back to this moment.  Not judging the situation to be good, or bad, or in any way.  Simply bringing your attention back to this moment, this situation, and being effective in this situation. That means accepting that something happened that made you uncomfortable, and resisting the mind’s desire to control or fix the situation.


Taking a deep breath and finding things to distract you from the desire to monitor or control can help. Engaging in activities is often helpful. One should focus their undivided attention on the activity alone, and attempt to push away any thoughts that try to come in related to the trigger. Mindless, or tedious activities usually work best for this, such as needlework, washing dishes, filing papers, etc. It is important not to attach any opinions to the activities you are engaged in because doing so opens the door to judgmental thoughts and images related to the triggering event.


Finding meaningful activities outside of your relationship can help you to keep perspective and a healthy sense of your significance. Volunteering or engaging in activities with a purpose helps redirect your attention upon others. There is a tendency to become hyper-focused on your relationship when triggered to anxiety, and developing contributing skills helps move your focus to others.  Examples of contributing skills would be doing someone a favor or making someone a nice card for a “just because” occasion, or writing a letter to a loved one, telling them how much you care. Contributing not only helps distract you from your own painful emotions but it helps you build a sense of self respect and gives back meaning and purpose to your life that may feel diminished due to the current circumstances in your relationship. Doing things for others can be very rewarding, especially when the act is unsolicited. This distress tolerance tactic is very effective.


Self-soothing is a skill that many of us neglect when triggered to anxiety. This is a skill in which one behaves in a comforting, nurturing, kind, and gentle way to oneself. You use it by doing something that is soothing to you such as taking a bubble bath, or spending time in nature. It is used in moments of distress or agitation to great avail when you are feeling afraid and compelled to act.


Committing yourself to a relationship based on mutual respect and refusing to allow yourself to take that first step towards losing self-respect despite your partner’s actions is a must. Once you take that first step down the slippery slope you not only lose your self-respect, you give your relationship the seal of doom. What feels like it will save the relationship and make it “safe” for you is actually the guaranteed way to keep you in anxiety and pain. Monitoring also prevents the offender from being able to redeem himself or herself, and takes away their dignity, which ensures that they will never be able to perform up to their highest capabilities in the relationship.


Sometimes outside support is necessary to enable you to thrive in a relationship where your trust has been broken. As a psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety, I have seen relationships dissolve due to infidelity and the ensuing mistrust, but I have also seen them heal and grow. Having an advocate to help you navigate the uncharted waters of relationship insecurity can go a long way towards helping you decide whether to stay in a relationship or leave. Psychotherapy can help you keep your dignity and to step into your power and use the situation as an opportunity for growth. If you need assistance in dealing with relationship anxiety call me at 770-789-0847 or email  carolyn at growhealchange.com for a free consultation. For more information see my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com.

Motherhood: The Anxiety Maker


For those who struggled with anxiety before motherhood, becoming a mother may have kicked things into overdrive. Even if you didn’t have anxiety before your child was born, after birth the world may seem like it will never be a safe place again. How can it, with your heart walking around outside of your body now? All of a sudden you are surrounded by potential dangers, like accidents waiting to happen, illnesses lurking in the background waiting to pounce and potential calamities everywhere.

Recognizing that you have anxiety and taking steps to intervene are vital to your health and the health of your children. Children pick up on the energy of the anxiety, and may see your anxious energy as the cue that they are unsafe or not capable of coping with what life throws at them. In order not to communicate a message of fear to your child, you must take steps to tame the beast.

Talking back to your anxious thoughts goes a long way towards addressing the problem. Actually logically looking at what you are believing and fearing can help you determine if your fears are unfounded or legitimate. When fears are legitimate you can plan a course of action and take steps to ensure your child’s safety and security. Unfounded fears are more nebulous and cannot be planned for or addressed using logical methods. Reassuring yourself when you have an unfounded fear can help you relax.

Having an outlet outside of your children for socialization and support is helpful too. Seeing other mothers who cope with potential situations without fear is a good model to assist you in stepping out into situations that you logically know are safe but still feel uneasy about. Having other women to discuss your fears with who will help you reframe them and support you is invaluable.

Good self care is vital. As mothers we are trained by society to believe that taking care of our children is selfless and that caring for ourselves is indulgent and selfish. This is simply not true. You must fill your own tank to overflowing before you can provide the abundance of love and caring you want to provide for your children. Take a walk, spend time with friends, read a good book, take a bubble bath. Spend time on things that bring you joy. Maintaining your identity outside of your children models what a strong, independent woman looks like, and you want them to grow up with the skills to care for themselves. How can they do this if they have never seen it done?

If anxiety is too much for you to deal with on your own, seek help. A qualified mental health professional is trained to help you address the symptoms. As a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety, I have seen the benefit of therapy to help mothers cope with anxiety and thrive. Please call me at 770-789-0847, email me at  Carolyn at growhealchange.com or see my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com

Motherhood can be a time of fears and anxiety. Support is available in a variety of ways.

to contact me for a free consultation.

Help For When Unexpected Events Cause Your Anxiety To Soar


Wouldn’t it be nice if life was one long strand of expected events? If there were never a cancelled appointment, an overdraft at the bank, a broken air conditioner? The big and little surprises in life are the ones that can really cause us to go into a tailspin. My clients tend to report that they have a moderate to high moderate level of baseline anxiety, but when unexpected events come along to exacerbate this, they report that they can become incapacitated, or at least experience a reduction in quality of life.

So how do you handle this? First of all I recommend addressing the baseline anxiety level. Good self care is the first step. Clients who report high baseline anxiety rarely have an answer when I ask what they do to take care of themselves. Good nutrition, exercise and rest are vital, but they do not completely address the problem. Having a regular routine of activities that nurture the soul is an integral part of reducing baseline anxiety symptoms. Whether it is taking the time to read the newspaper, a bubble bath, time in the garden, or an evening of stargazing, soul nurturing activities are my go-to for helping clients cope on a daily basis.

When the surprises come along, I recommend stopping, taking some deep breaths and really focusing on the body. Get grounded by noticing your feet on the floor. Feel the chair on the back of your legs and the breeze on your skin. Notice the smells in the room. Then pay attention to where you have the “felt sense” of that anxiety in your body. Is it a tightness or lump in your chest or stomach? Short shallow breaths? Muscle tightening all over? Notice your body’s response to the anxiety and do the opposite of what your body wants to do. So take slow, deep breaths, progressively relax your muscles and visualize your heart rate slowing down. This is important in stopping the hormonal cascade that occurs with anxiety.

The next step is in allowing the anxious energy to flow through you instead of resisting it. Notice it is there by saying “there is anxiety” and let it pass through you without judgement. Watch it like you would watch waves on an EKG machine passing on and off the screen. Visualize the energy leaving your body just like it came in. Not resisting it and remembering to breathe are the keys.

Addressing the thoughts that trigger anxiety is the very important work of therapy, but you can apply these physical interventions at home to bring yourself relief fairly quickly. If you need more help addressing anxiety symptoms call me at 770-789-0847 or email me at  carolyn at growhealchange.com for a free consultation and also see my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com

Don’t let unexpected events to rob your quality of life


How The Practice of Mindfulness Can Help Treat Anxiety


Anxiety is pervasive in our world today. From the poor economic climate, to traffic, to tragedy in the news, our culture contributes as well. Our modern society is busting at the seams with stimuli that trigger symptoms of anxiety in our bodies and minds.

Have you noticed that you can go about your day with a sense of anxiety that flares up on an incremental basis? Even as our minds get busy, the physical sensations of anxiety such as muscle tension, tightness in the chest or stomach, fluttering heartbeat are still present. Every few moments our minds do a “check in” to be sure that all systems are functioning properly. When the mind locates the symptoms of anxiety it sends off a “code red” and all of the symptoms feel exacerbated.

The practice of mindfulness can help with this. Mindfulness is defined as a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you exist solely in the moment, noticing what is going on right then to the fullest. The practice of acceptance goes along with mindfulness. In acceptance you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Acceptance is the act of acknowledging the existence of the feeling or sensation without “defining” yourself by it. Instead of saying “I am anxious,” notice the physical sensation and acknowledge that it is there. If you have an unpleasant fluttery knot in your stomach, say “there is anxiety” and gently move your awareness back to what you are doing in the moment.

When we resist emotions or physical sensations they rear their ugly heads and demand to be noticed. The sheer energy of them increases due to our increase in attempt to squash them down. Our bodies were made to allow all energy, negative and positive to move through them and to be expressed in some way, whether spoken through communication, burned off through exercise or relaxed away. Acceptance allows our bodies to naturally self correct and allow that energy to pass through us without resistance.

Mindfulness causes you to be fully present. You really focus on your work, you really engage in conversation, you really indulge in the sensations of the cool breeze, warm sun, etc. that are going on around you. Mindfulness is proven to increase our quality of life by improving our physical health (reducing blood pressure and increasing quality of sleep to name a few benefits) and our mental health (decreased rumination, increased ability to handle daily stress) and out relationships (One study showed that people who practice mindfulness deal with relationship stress more constructively. Another study found that those who employ mindfulness have a lower stress response during conflict, while the state of mindfulness was associated with better communication during conflicts.)

Mindfulness is most frequently associated with a practice of meditation. Even five minutes of meditation daily has been proven to show benefit. You can practice mindfulness in many other ways too. Some of my clients report washing the dishes as being meditative for them, or gardening, or listening to music. Any activity where you can be fully in the moment contributes to your ability to quiet that voice in the mind that causes anxiety.

By being mindful you are not denying your feelings, nor ignoring them. You are integrating them into your “whole self” and allowing your mind to get out of the way so that your body can naturally heal itself.

As a psychotherapist, I help clients daily learn skills to help them better cope with the effects of anxiety on their mind and bodies. If you would like more information about the practice of mindfulness or assistance in dealing with anxiety, please see my website www.carolyntuckertherapist.com to contact me. My practice, TRU Integrative Health and Wellness is filled with a team of integrative clinicians to assist in this as well. From massage and yoga to chiropractic care, targeted clinical nutrition and acupuncture, our clinicians can help you increase your quality of life. Please see www.growhealchange.com

Mindfulness is a powerful way to treat anxiety. To learn other tools please call me at 770-789-0847 for a free consultation.

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Barefooting as Natural Treatment for Anxiety


On a recent trip to the beach I was reminded again why I am such an advocate for the practice of earthing. Earthing is the act of coming into contact with the earth without wearing shoes in order to release negative energy. With the advent of rubber or plastic soled shoes many of us have lost the benefit of being “grounded.”  Within a half an hour of being barefoot on the shore I felt like a new person.

There are studies that report the neuromodulative health benefits of earthing, from positive effects on blood viscosity and oxygenation to lowering of cortisol levels. In our world of stress and anxiety, we have lost touch with many practices that could help our bodies organically self correct, and I believe earthing is one of those.
When a client comes into my practice complaining of symptoms of anxiety, I take a thorough history, paying special attention to what that client does to “recharge their batteries.” One of the first recommendations I make is to get out in the sunlight for twenty minutes a day (for the benefits of vitamin D and the effects on neurotransmitters and hormones such as melatonin). This practice alone can cause wonderful benefits on mood regulation and sleep. The addition of being barefoot during this process seems to really augment the benefits for anxiety. I direct them to visualize the anxious feelings being absorbed by the earth and dissipating from their bodies. I have had clients report a dramatic reduction in anxiety just from this simple intervention.
Anxiety can be seen as anxious energy flowing through our bodies, and it is insidious in its effects on our health, our relationships, our productivity and our spirits. The long term effects of unaddressed anxiety can be debilitating. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Men and women can manifest the symptoms differently. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to symptoms of irritability produced by anxiety. Physical symptoms are usually related to the heart, lungs, nervous and gastrointestinal systems. Left untreated anxiety can take its toll on our bodies, and our quality of life.
In our rat race culture we must take the time to care for our bodies, our minds and our spirits if we are to experience life in a meaningful manner. Running on empty trying to function is no way to live. If we want to have the levels of productivity that our lifestyles demand we must invest time in maintaining our mental and physical health. If you are unable to address your anxiety symptoms alone, there is nothing wrong with reaching out for help. Consider it an investment in obtaining the level of functionality you desire. More than that, consider that you function in this busy lifestyle in an attempt to create a rich life in which you can thrive. If you are not thriving, something is not working. Please take steps today to achieve a life that works. Everything that you do depends on it!
Please see my website for resources on dealing with anxiety and obtaining support from me if you need it. Also see the website of my practice,

Anxiety can be crippling. Call me at 770-789-0847 to see how I can help you!

for massage, meditation groups, yoga, and other opportunities to care for yourself. You are worth it!

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