Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind by Judson Brewer

20. The Why Habit Loop

  • Here we meet the why habit loop. This is when we feel anxious and ask ourselves why, which only stokes further anxiety. The advice here is why doesn’t matter. When you feel anxious focus on what is happening at the moment. Ask what thoughts you are having? What emotions are you feeling? What sensations are showing up in your body? In other words, put your curiosity to work.
  • Anoher trick is to use your body to deal with difficult emotions. When they hit, open your eyes wide as a way to jump-start your curiosity and say hmm. Also, check to see which parts of your body feel tense, such as your shoulders, and try to relax that part intentionally.

21. Even Doctors Get Panic Attacks

  • Like many readers Jud once suffered from panic attacks. By practicing the techniques covered in this book, however, he was able to put them behind him. In addition to your five senses, you have the physical sensations inside your body and your thoughts. As you practice mindfulness note which of these seven senses is most dominant. With curiosity as your go-to practice these lessons every day. Bring being physically active and healthy eating into the game as well. To motivate exercise, for example, recall how good you felt after the last time you exercised. The same can be done for healthy eating, volunteering, and other acts of kindness.

22. Evidence-Based Faith

  • There are two kinds of faith. The first is having faith that you can do something you have never done before. The second is faith that you can do something that you have already accomplished. You can also draw on evidence that others have done something to give you faith that you can do it as well. Here we can draw on the fact that mindfulness training has shown itself to work in many studies. Once you have achieved some success using the advice given here you can build on it and have faith that you can make further strides. It is easy, however, to return to old habits so you need to be diligent.

23. Anxiety Sobriety

  • Here Dr. Judd compares his program to Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs. The programs all start with the admission that you have whatever problem the program is trying to solve. There is also a reliance on the one day at a time mantra and that you can only act in the present here and now. If you are interested you can look into his weekly online video program for people who struggle with anxiety. Jud sees himself and an extremist, but in a good way. He is one that is addicted to mindfulness, curiosity, and kindness.

Epilogue: Six Years and Five Minutes

  • The book ends with a call for feedback. Jud encourages you to let him know what you liked or didn’t like about the book along with your experiences related to trying his methods. Just like he hopes you learned something useful reading his book, he plans to keep on learning from his audience. Send your feedback to drjud.com.

Judson Brewer, MD, PhD

  • Judson is a renowned addiction psychiatrist and neuroscientist. He is the director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, as well as an associate professor in both the School of Public Health and the Medical School at Brown. He has trained Olympic athletes and coaches, government ministers, and business leaders. He is the author of The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits. Check out his TED Talk, follow him on Twitter , and check out his website. You can email him at drjud@mindsciences.com.
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