What is Catastrophizing and why it is making you miserable?

What is Catastrophizing and why it is making you miserable?

Cognitive distortion theory is a branch of psychology that deals with the way people think about and interpret situations. It was developed in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron Beck and has been expanded on by other researchers. Catastrophizing is one of the cognitive distortions that can occur when dealing with a difficult situation. This happens when a person takes an adverse event or situation and blows it out of proportion, imagining all sorts of terrible things that could occur as a result.

Catastrophizing refers to the magnifying events into disasters that cannot be tolerated. For example, suppose you think that something like public speaking will lead to your becoming wholly humiliated and embarrassed. In that case, you are catastrophizing about what is likely to happen. When catastrophizing occurs, you are more likely to become anxious about what is happening or avoid doing things that involve the situation. For example, if you think some mild illness means you will be bedridden for a week and lose your job, then the illness may lead to anxiety and depression.

How to Recognize Catastrophizing In Yourself

Catastrophizing is often related to how you interpret situations. Often, people who catastrophize expect extreme outcomes in a situation when something wrong happens. For example, suppose someone bumps into you in a crowded room and does not apologize. In that case, you might think that they are “intentionally trying to make your life miserable” or that the person is “out to get you.” Catastrophizing often feeds the belief that a situation is horrible and unbearable, leading to feelings of anxiety.

One strategy for dealing with catastrophizing is identifying it when it occurs. You can ask yourself some questions if you think you might be catastrophizing:

(a) What is the worst possible thing that could happen?

(b) How likely is it to actually happen?

By doing this, you can make an objective prediction about what will happen. You may find out that it’s unlikely for something terrible to actually occur, and by realizing this, you’ll feel less anxious.

What does Catastrophizing Look Like?

A person thinking about starting their own business might catastrophize about the potential failure and risk of bankruptcy. Someone making plans with someone they like might catastrophize that if the person doesn’t show up for their date, or if the person cancels, they don’t want them anymore. Someone thinking about asking their boss for a promotion might catastrophize that their boss will say no and that they will be “stuck in this awful job forever.”

Catastrophizing can also occur when someone experiences a traumatic event. For example, a police officer who has witnessed the death of another person might catastrophize that they could have done something to prevent what happened or that it’s their fault. Someone who has experienced a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or an earthquake, might catastrophize that another event like this will occur again and lead to destruction. This is where anxiety is born. We have experienced a bad situation in the past. Our minds allow us to assume events will always be harmful in the future.

In interpersonal relationships, catastrophizing can also take the form of negative beliefs about yourself or someone else. For example, have you ever been left on read? When someone doesn’t respond to a text or a phone call, you might catastrophize that they are angry with you or don’t want to talk to you. Quite simply, the other person may have just been busy. People who have experienced an unfaithful partner may assume future romantic interests are cheating on them when they fail to immediately respond.

How To Handle Catastrophizing

Identify when catastrophizing is occurring: consider asking yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and “How likely is it to actually happen?” Challenge yourself to come up with an alternative explanation. For example, if you think your partner doesn’t like you because they did not respond immediately after a date, consider asking them why they didn’t reply.

Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. Sometimes these thoughts can appear when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, and reducing your anxiety will help counteract the thinking style before it spirals into a negative cycle of catastrophizing and further anxiety. Use behavioral experiments to test out the validity of your belief that something terrible will happen. Try doing something, and if the worst possible thing happens, practice accepting it. For example, you can tell yourself that you will be okay if your boss says no to your promotion request.

Change Your Focus

Think about how things could go well instead of focusing on the worst-case scenario. For example, “there’s a chance I might get this promotion, and if not, there are other opportunities out there.” Tell yourself that bad things could happen but that you can cope. For example, “It’s a possibility my boss will say no to my request for a promotion, but if she does, it doesn’t mean I’m going to quit my job.

Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, do things you enjoy, and learn how to be resilient. If something wrong happens, have an optimistic approach. Try to look at the situation from other perspectives or find the silver lining. Make time for activities that are meaningful to you. It is important to remember that although catastrophizing can feel like it is helping you cope with difficult situations, it isn’t. Try to find more effective coping strategies by speaking to a therapist or taking up mindfulness meditation if the issue persists.

It is normal to think catastrophically in certain situations. Still, suppose your negative thinking is so overwhelming that it interferes with your daily life and makes you unable to manage the situation effectively on your own. In that case, it is time to seek professional help.

Cognitive restructuring is an effective way to change your thinking style and reduce anxiety while catastrophizing. As we mentioned above, it makes anxiety worse and does not allow you to find solutions to the problem at hand.

Many cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can help you manage your negative thoughts and catastrophizing. Still, it is essential to know that the effects of therapy are long-lasting. This is because it changes how you think, not just how you act.

For some, catastrophizing is a common and normal thought process. But for others, it can be so overwhelming that they cannot manage the situation at hand on their own. If you find yourself in this position, then seek professional help as soon as possible with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques such as Cognitive Restructuring or Mindfulness Meditation. These will allow you to change your thinking style and reduce anxiety while also providing long-lasting effects because of how these therapies work, changing not just how you act but how you think about things too!

How Backpacking Saved Me, Again.

How Backpacking Saved Me, Again.

Anyone who has followed my personal journey knows that the non-profit Frontline Freedom was started out of need. I needed to escape. I needed to escape my own thoughts, struggles, emotions. I needed to escape and stay healthy.


I could have chosen to hit the bottle. That wasn’t for me. In fact, the best advice I ever received was more of a reminder. Alcohol was for celebrations. Not for sadness. Never drink when you’re sad, lonely, or depressed. Only drink to celebrate. Only drink to toast others for their accomplishments.


Enter the inner outdoorsman.


When I was a kid, I had an obsession with camping gear. I loved tents, cooking sets, and building fires from nothing. As I got older, my obsessions stayed with me. I bought all of the backpacking gear I could afford. Only, I didn’t backpack. I put all of my gear in a motorcycle and would take weekend trips, camping wherever I could find somewhere open for the night.


As life hit and I felt alone, I ran into Josh. We started taking backpacking trips and developed what would become Frontline Freedom. Things were going great. I was happy, healthy, and helping others in the process.


Then life hit me again. As it tends to do so unexpectedly.


I received a frantic phone call from my aunt. I could hear my dad screaming in the background. My heart sank.
My aunt said, “David, your brother is dead. He killed himself. He’s gone.”


It was December 1. Just a few days after thanksgiving. I never got to say goodbye. In the ensuing chaos that consumed my family, I did what I always do. I hid my emotions and tried to stay strong for everyone else. I offered encouragement and tried to help people understand that they would never fully understand. We cried, we laughed at old stories, and we wondered why.


Fast forward to four months later.


My mom called me. She was crying on the other end of the phone. “It’s bad, Dave. I need you.” Once again, the surge of adrenaline through my veins made me feel numb as I prepared for her following words. “Michael is dead.”


Michael was my step-brother. We came of age together and became adults at the same time. He was a good man who always provided for his family. Years prior, he became a victim of prescription pills, which turned to heroin use. He fought his demons in and out of rehab. Addiction is an odd thing. He never wanted to be addicted, but the disease overcame him.
He died of an overdose before leaving for work.


Once again, the family was in a state of mourning.


My younger brother, Ryan, was struggling with all of it. I was too. Yet, I again hid my emotions and tried to be the comforter to everyone else.


Luckily, Frontline Freedom had a trip planned between Michael’s death and his funeral. I told my brother, Ryan, that he needed to be on that trip with me. As we tend to do so, we went to Grayson Highlands and backpacked.


I remember looking over a ridge and wondering how to make sense of everything. Here was all the beauty of nature, and I couldn’t help but think that my two brothers would never see sunset again. They would never feel the rush of cool air on their faces again. I looked at Ryan as he watched the sunset over the ridge, and I could see the same look in him.


While I may have been in a sad place, the woods did something for me. It did the same thing it had done when I was a kid and again as an adult just four years prior. They gave me perspective. They gave me a chance to talk to the people on the trip. They allowed me to feel.


Sometimes, we lose feeling. Sometimes, that numbness we feel when we brace for bad news never goes away. Backpacking amid all that turmoil gave me back what I had lost. It gave me feelings, emotions, and, most importantly, safety.


I’ll admit it. I tend not to be a vulnerable man. I fall victim to some sort of never-showing ‘weakness’ mentality. That’s wrong. Weakness is not allowing yourself to heal. Weakness is not showing others that you’re a human.


Backpacking gave me the ability to share. Sharing brings vulnerability yet, courage. Strength comes from sharing. Power comes from admitting that sometimes the people who are always there for other people do, in fact, need people for themselves as well.


That trip was the perfect trip at the ideal time.


I am stronger for going and continue to be stronger today from the lessons I learned while on a trail.

**The above photos is of me and my brother, Ryan, on the Grayson Highlands trip**

How your sleep impacts anxiety

How your sleep impacts anxiety

How Sleep Impacts Your Anxiety Levels

Most people know that getting a good night’s sleep is essential, but many don’t realize how closely linked sleep and anxiety are. In fact, there is a strong correlation between the amount of sleep you get and the severity of your anxiety symptoms.

The reason why is because your body releases serotonin while you sleep. Serotonin is the neurochemical in the brain that regulates anxiety levels, so when you get enough hours of quality sleep, your serotonin levels are higher than if you do not get enough sleep.

On the other hand, if your serotonin levels are low, it will be challenging to stop anxiety. There are exceptions, of course, but this is typically the case. So while it may seem difficult to believe that something as simple as getting enough sleep can have an impact on your anxiety levels, it’s actually very accurate. Getting at least 6 hours of high-quality sleep each night can help to decrease your anxiety.

But it’s not as simple as that. To fully understand how to best use sleep to your advantage, you need to know the different types of sleep and what they do for you.

The sleep cycles

 Throughout the night, your brain goes through different sleep cycles. Each cycle is about 90 minutes long, and each one brings you closer to being asleep.

Non-REM is a deep, dreamless state that most people experience only a few times each night. It plays a vital role in helping your body recover from stress and build new cells, including those responsible for learning and memory. The non–REM cycle is where you have more profound and slower brain waves and decreased blood flow to the brain. On average, this type of sleep comprises about 75% of total sleep time.

REM – is a stage of sleep during which your eyes move rapidly, and you have dreams. When you experience your typical four or five REM cycles per night, each typically lasts from 10 to 30 minutes.

The amount of time spent in different stages of sleep can vary from night to night for any individual. However, suppose one consistently spends less than an hour in slow-wave sleep. In that case, they are probably not getting enough restorative rest with their current sleeping schedule. For this type of essential recovery to take place, it is critical to allocate at least six hours for a regular sleep period in addition to allowing the body sufficient time for going through all four stages before waking up.

Healthy sleep habits

Some healthy sleep habits you can use to ensure you are getting the best sleep are:

– Avoid caffeine at least six hours before your regular bedtime.

– Exercise during the day instead of just before you go to bed. The rise and fall of body temperature from exercise can interfere with sleep quality.

– Limit your alcohol intake as it leads to fragmented sleep and frequent awakenings throughout the night.

– Avoid checking your phone or watching TV in bed as these activities can interfere with sleep quality.

– Find a sleeping pattern that is best for you and stick with it (fall asleep around the same time every night).

Habits like these can help your body create an internal “sleep clock” that is more in tune with when you need to sleep. On average, adults should try to get at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep each night; however, an average of seven to nine hours is recommended for anyone who is trying to recover from anxiety. 

Suppose your anxiety symptoms occur during the day. In that case, it can increase nighttime stress levels and interfere with your ability to fall asleep. The less you can rest properly, the harder it will be to function during the day and overcome your anxiety.

Suppose you are struggling to get good quality sleep. In that case, it may increase your anxiety, which can lead to further insomnia, creating a vicious cycle. Remember, some people with anxiety can struggle to fall asleep due to elevated stress levels.

This makes it essential to discover what is keeping you up at night so you can begin dealing with the root cause instead of allowing your anxiety to escalate further.

Suppose you have trouble falling asleep or become dependent on sleep aids. In that case, it may be time to chat with a therapist about whether an alternative strategy would work better for you.

Having difficulties sleeping can be frustrating if you are trying to heal from anxiety. Think of restful sleep as your number one ally in the fight against your panic disorder. It will help decrease overall anxiety, but it is also crucial for long-term health and wellness. By maintaining good sleeping habits and getting proper sleep regularly, you will experience a more restful and productive day.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t despair. Healthy sleep habits and a regular routine can help your body establish an internal “sleep clock” that’s better in tune with when it needs to be resting. Practices like these will lead to more restful nights and promote higher levels of productivity during the day for those who have difficulty managing their anxiety symptoms, which may occur during daylight hours due to elevated stress levels.

I suggest tracking your sleep with a good old-fashioned pen and paper or using a smartwatch. You can help uncover patterns in your sleep patterns and get yourself on the path to correcting your sleep hygiene.

Consistency is Key

Like anything, consistency is key. Healthy sleep habits are dependent upon a routine. Apple iPhones have a bedtime reminder (what I personally use). Each time it goes off, I stop what I’m doing, brush my teeth, and go to bed. Starting this routine has helped me decrease the number of weird dreams I have (you know, the one all cops have about trying to pull a trigger and can’t). Additionally, I feel more restorative when I get up.

The other thing I do is keep my alarm set for each and every day. Even on weekends, I’m up by 0530. After a couple of months, I really don’t need an alarm anymore.

Sleeping well is crucial for anyone who wants to overcome their anxiety. It’s essential to stick to a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, and get up at the same time each day. Suppose you’re struggling with insomnia or have become dependent on sleep aids. In that case, it may be time to chat with a therapist about whether an alternative strategy would work better for you. By establishing good sleeping habits, you can help your body regulate its own “sleep clock” and get the most out of your restful nights.

Art of the Sidebar

Art of the Sidebar

We have underestimated the importance of the sidebar conversation. In the business world, people have stopped talking to each other. But it is not because they are from a different generation or have different political views. The reason is that they work from home. The precious time spent with one another before or after meetings is where ideas used to be shared. Friendships were built. Conversations were more than about the next project.

In the digital age of teleworking, is it time to re-think the importance of the sidebar conversation?

What is a sidebar?

Sidebar conversations are where relationships are built before and after meetings. They help build trust and understanding and allow for better decision-making. A sidebar conversation is any informal, unplanned side discussion during a meeting. They are frequently used in team meetings or brainstorming. They allow more ideas to be expressed than the time allocated to the regular meeting.

Sidebar conversations can become very important when people meet for an initial discussion. Sidebar conversations are the small talk that naturally occurs before or after meetings. They can be used to build relationships among people, learn about their interests, and understand their motivations. These informal discussions foster creativity and allow for deeper reflection on topics being discussed in the meeting.

When was the last time you had a sidebar conversation? Like most, it has been too long since your previous sidebar chat before a meeting, over coffee, lunch, or drinks. But now, team members are across town or on different continents. That socializing has been replaced by e-mails, instant messages, social media, and video conferencing. In the digital age, it is easy to tap into someone’s enthusiasm or thoughts from anywhere around the globe. This has led to a focus on virtual business relationships instead of personal connections.

The sidebar conversation was where we expressed new ideas. However, those sidebars are where ideas used to be shared before and after meetings. Perhaps we subconsciously wanted to vet ideas to a friend before bringing them to the entire workgroup.

It’s easy to forget the richness of the sidebar conversation when you don’t have face-to-face time. It becomes easier to jump on an idea and dissect it with a digital scalpel than the face-to-face encouragement we give one another. But when everyone is virtually present in a meeting, some of the personal creativity we all shared is beginning to wane.

This is how creative ideas die. Not because they were not great, but because we didn’t engage in the sidebar conversations where we encouraged creativity. Mostly out of fear of showing too much enthusiasm about an idea that isn’t yet fully formed.

Great ideas, just like tree seeds, need time to grow and develop through encouragement from people who care for the well-being of the overall forest. This is where empathy comes in. To encourage others to feel safe sharing their thoughts, even if they are not fully formed.

So the real question becomes, how can we build connections and safety in a digital environment? How can we build empathy for the ideas of others?

How to create a digital sidebar:

Organizations must emulate the safety of the sidebar conversation. This means providing time for people to bounce ideas off one another outside of meetings, encourage new ones and engage in face-to-face discussions without a plan.

And what better place than during office hours? Yes…office hours have a whole new meaning! Office hours can create a dialogue between staff and their peers. This is where brainstorming ideas, the sidetracking into something completely different or even uncomfortable, happens. And this is where new ideas are born! In the digital office hours landscape, schedule time on your calendar labeled “office hours.” The time signals to others that you are free for random phone calls, video conferencing, or other virtual distractions.

Create guidelines for your group that encourage the atmosphere of the sidebar conversation.

  • Create an office hours badge on your avatar or social profile to signal others when you are available
  • Make it OK to schedule blocks of time on someone’s calendar so they can be interrupted during random times
  • Leave yourself open for random virtual sidebars that could turn into something amazing

The digital golf course

Since virtual teams are becoming more common, what does that mean for business relationships? There is no digital golf course. The golf course used to be where deals were made. Not the board room.

In the digital age, it is time to re-think the importance of the sidebar conversation. We must fight for digital interactions, even if it comes down to scheduling it on our calendars just to have a relaxed chat with team members. Without that socializing and non-business conversation, we will lose something in the personal dynamics of business. If we remove that part of human behavior, we all lose, regardless of what our social media friends say. (And social media friends are not the same as your organizational ones.)

This is where empathy can come into play. The idea of empathy isn’t just about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes…it’s also understanding what we lose without those sidebars and how our relationships suffer because of it.

Having the ability to digitally collaborate could be the ‘it’ factor that drives your organization into the future, but only if you engage in conversations that matter. So let the digital age take us back to the basics of relationship building. Schedule time on your calendar that allows for random sidebars with your peers just like you would on the golf course.

Conclusion

We all need to find ways to make our lives more meaningful and fulfilling. And sometimes, that requires stepping out of your comfort zone or trying something new. Enter the digital sidebar. It provides a space for people who share common interests or goals to talk about their ideas without fear of judgment while also getting some advice from others on potential pitfalls they may encounter along the way. This type of dialogue can help us see things differently–and provide motivation when we don’t think there’s any left inside ourselves. It may seem like an odd thing to do. But, building time in your calendar in which you encourage interruption may be the very thing that sets you apart from other managers.

Creating a Conscious Mindset: A Key to Success

Creating a Conscious Mindset: A Key to Success

Most people operate on autopilot most of the time. They go through the motions of their day, doing what they’re supposed to do and not thinking about it too much. This is especially true when it comes to working. We all know that if we just do what we’re told and don’t think too hard about it, things will go more smoothly.

But this mindless approach can also lead to stagnation and boredom. If you never challenge yourself and push your boundaries, you’ll never grow as an individual. You need to be willing to experiment with new ideas and ways of thinking, even if they make you uncomfortable. By having a conscious mindset, you can take control of your own development and genuinely start to live the life you want.

To have a conscious mindset, you need to know your mindset. You need to be aware of the thoughts and ideas going through your head daily. This awareness can open up a whole new world of possibilities for yourself. The more conscious you are, the more you’ll realize how much control you have over yourself and the situations you are presented with.

What is the conscious mindset?

So what does it mean to have a conscious mindset? It involves actively examining situations that seem familiar, recognizing patterns of thought and behavior that might be holding you back, and making a conscious effort to change things. In essence, it’s all about choosing how you respond to stimuli – both physical and mental – that come into your life.

Part of having a conscious mindset is also recognizing when you’re not acting consciously. Most of us tend to revert to autopilot mode after a long day at work or school. If your mind tends to wander to other things when you’re supposed to be focused on the task at hand, this is a sign that you need to make an effort to stay in the moment.

What are the benefits of having a conscious mindset?

Being conscious also entails being aware of your own thoughts and feelings. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about a person or situation repeatedly, stop yourself. See the thought, and choose to let it go. This frees up mental space for more empowering thoughts.

Being conscious can help you connect with other people on a deeper level. Let’s spend time focusing on ourselves and what is happening inside of us every day. We become more attuned to our own feelings, desires, and needs. When we understand ourselves, we become more accepting of the people around us. We can then speak from a place of empathy and understanding rather than reacting from a place of fear or anger.

Having a conscious mindset can help you achieve your goals faster. When you have clear intentions for what you want in life, it becomes much easier to stop wasting time and energy on the things you don’t want. You become more driven toward your goals and end up taking better care of yourself because you’re living a life that is right for you.

How can you adopt a more conscious mindset in your own life? Consider these three steps.

The conscious mindset is how you look at your own personal situation. It includes understanding how your belief system has been created and then deciding what should change to create a more positive atmosphere for yourself. The first step toward changing your life begins with examining who you are right now. Once you do that, you can move forward and create a future that works better for your needs.

First, understand why you think the way you do right now. You should consider what has shaped these thoughts. No one just wakes up in the morning and decides that they would like to be unhappy or unfulfilled in their lives; instead, deep-rooted beliefs have built up over a long period, and those experiences create the basis for how you see your world.

Second, decide what you should change about that mindset to help yourself feel better. You may find that some changes could be made in how you think or behave right now, especially if any of your current beliefs are not helpful to you. There may be old ideas from your childhood that still influence how you make choices today, and those should be considered something worth changing.

Third, come up with a plan for putting those new changes into place. Deciding to make a few adjustments will not help if you don’t create a specific action plan to back up that intention. You should detail exactly what you need to do and in what order so that it becomes easier for you to visualize your desired outcome.

You can also employ other tactics while trying to achieve this mindset change, such as taking time out of each day to sit quietly and think about what you have done so far or what you would like to change about your current daily routine. You could also maintain a journal where you write down any personal insights that come to light during this time of introspection.

The conscious mindset is not always easy to achieve. Still, it can be accomplished relatively quickly and easily with some effort and regular practice.

What challenges do you face when trying to live more consciously??

The biggest challenge is getting out of autopilot. We all have automatic responses, some helpful and others unhelpful. When we go on autopilot, we tend to default to our less useful patterns and stories because they’re what we’re used to. Often we don’t even realize this is happening, mainly if it’s a pattern we live by for many years. To be more conscious, I need to notice when I’m on autopilot to get back into my conscious mindset.

How can you overcome these challenges?

When we start to practice noticing when we’re on autopilot and becoming more aware of our patterns, we gradually begin to see them in action all the time. It’s then that we have a chance to start consciously challenging these patterns instead of following them blindly, or worse still – without knowing what is going on. The best way to do this is with the help of mindfulness practices such as meditation and everyday mindfulness.

The most effective way for me is to take one small step at a time. It doesn’t work if I try to do too much or too drastically because my brain goes into panic mode and stops thinking clearly. One step at a time helps the brain relax. Always aim high but start small!

How to stay mindful/conscious?

My favorite way to stay conscious is by setting intentions for the day. My second tip would be to practice mindfulness throughout the day, which can be as simple as taking one deep breath, noticing a flower out of the corner of your eye, or hearing the wind in the trees. If you do this throughout the day, you’ll find your mind starts to relax, and it becomes easier to come back to this mindset.

How does living more consciously improve our life?

Living more consciously is about being aware of how we affect others and the planet on a moment-to-moment basis. By practicing mindfulness we can begin to live with

Conclusion

The conscious mindset is the most important mindset for success. It’s the only way to be in control of your life and make yourself better. You can’t let others do it for you or wait around for them to change their minds about you because they won’t. The key is to focus on how you want things to be instead of how they are right now, which will give you a sense of power over your situation. Your thoughts create reality, so if all you think about is what isn’t working, then that’s what will keep happening. If this sounds like too much work, consider taking up an instrument. Learning anything new activates the conscious mind and makes it stronger!