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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Anxiety

In Forge. More on Medium.

📌 Today’s tip: Pin the friendliest face on Zoom.

It’s been more than a year since many of us started working remotely and big Zoom meetings are still as awkward as ever. When it’s your turn to speak, you scan the grid of faces: Some look bored, others look way too intense. Hey, is that guy in the lower-right corner slurping soup?! Here’s a trick for easing the anxiety, shared by Laquesha Bailey on Medium: Pin the friendliest-looking meeting participant. “That way,” she explains, “it feels like you’re just having a casual conversation with that one person and not a…

How to get back into the world even if you’re feeling anxious

Photo: Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

If you’ve been vaccinated for Covid-19, you may have noticed that your pandemic anxiety isn’t going anywhere. A crowded grocery store, or even a hug from another vaccinated friend, can feel like too much too fast.

Some of this anxiety may be about the disease itself, but often it has to do with new relationship challenges. As many people step back into their social life, they’ll inevitably encounter conflict with others: Maybe you have friends who are not ready to hang out in person yet. Your spouse isn’t thrilled that you’re spending less time with them. …

A psychology-based approach to conflict

Photo by Korney Violin on Unsplash

About five years ago my significant other and I were in a dumb argument. I wasn’t backing down. She wasn’t backing down.

During the stalemate, I vented to a friend. I explained to him in agonizing detail why I was right, why my significant other was wrong, how the world would be better off if I could just get her to understand this — and did this guy have any advice for convincing her that I was right? His response: “Do you want to be right or happy?”

This question has since saved me a lot of headaches and led…

A therapist’s advice for getting back to a calmer default state

Photo: China News Service/Contributor/Getty Images

After a January defined by a constant barrage of major news events, from insurrection to inauguration — which came after a year of chaos, or wait, four years of chaos — this past month has felt, well… quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. Like we’ve spent so long on edge that we’ve forgotten how to be any other way. My therapy clients seem to be finding that all the anxiety they’ve stored up all the past four years is still with them, stubbornly hanging on like the worst type of relic.

So what do you with all that anxiety when your brain and…

A therapist explains how to stop trying to be a mind reader and focus on being a ‘mind knower’

Woman talking to her friend.
Woman talking to her friend.
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

One thing I’ve observed with my therapy clients over the course of the pandemic is that many of us have become anxious mind readers, constantly certain that our friends think we’re terrible or our co-workers think we’re lazy. A tiff between siblings suddenly feels irreparable. A Zoom session with a grumpy boss feels like a guarantee that a firing is on the horizon. In isolation, we read every sign as pointing to the same conclusion: Someone is probably upset with us.

Being able to predict how other people are feeling is a useful skill to have. But when we’re cut…

To lesson your anxiety, ground your emotions in reality

A person wearing a face mask, using their phone. They seem to have an optimistic expression.
A person wearing a face mask, using their phone. They seem to have an optimistic expression.
Photo: hsyncoban/E+/Getty Images

As a therapist, I can’t tell you how much I dislike the platitude, “Your emotions are valid.” Sometimes, they aren’t. When rioters stormed the Capitol this month, they demonstrated how dangerous emotions can be when they aren’t rooted in reality.

The relationship between conspiracy-fueled narratives and emotions is a two-way street. As I tell my clients, when you feel anxious or angry, you’re more likely to believe statements that confirm those feelings. And the greater your exposure to emotion-filled propaganda, the more likely you are to absorb those emotions.

So what do you do when it feels like a significant…

✅ Today’s tip: Think of someone in your life who stays calm in times of crisis, and give them a call.

Staying on top of current events can feel like an exercise in masochism these days, and it’s all too easy to let conversations with friends and family turn into two-way anxiety spirals—which is why the therapist Kathleen Smith recommends seeking out the wise and even-keeled people in your circle.

“Look at your family, your community, or even the voices you interact with on the internet,” Smith writes, “and ask yourself who’s staying thoughtful when everyone else is spinning out…

A therapist shares three approaches to riding out overwhelming times

Woman getting out of bed ready to face the day.
Woman getting out of bed ready to face the day.
Photo: Oscar Wong/Getty Images

How can I make myself productive again? It’s a question that has come up again and again in my sessions with therapy clients, especially in the first few weeks of the new year: Amid all the crises of 2020 and a brand-new 2021, many of us are grasping for a way to stop feeling paralyzed and unfocused — to get back some amount of motivation as a way of holding on to a semblance of normalcy.

But what does that mean, anyway? When humans are anxious, we are quick to latch on to a definition of productivity that says humans…

✅ Today’s tip: Whenever you find yourself worrying about a situation, treat it as a cue to ask what action you can take.

As the performance coach Brad Stulberg writes: “Exerting agency, even if only in small doses, is key to health and well-being.” That might mean doing something about the situation that’s causing you distress, like calling your representative, or doing something about your state of mind, like taking a long walk or calling a friend.

The next time you find yourself slipping into anxiety, figure out what will help you reclaim your sense of agency. The time after…

Dog resting on a person’s lap.
Dog resting on a person’s lap.
Photo: gollykim/Getty Images

Hear that? No? Exactly. That’s the silence of a blissfully empty calendar: No meetings, no deadlines, nowhere to be. For the next few days, your only project is to relax. Kick back with a puzzle and a hot mug of something. Oh, and try not to let all that downtime drive you up the wall.

An open expanse of time seems great, in theory. In practice, though, doing nothing and actually enjoying it is a skill that a lot of us just don’t have. As Madison Malone Kircher has explained in Forge, up to half of adults have experienced something…

Forge

A publication from Medium on personal development.

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