How To Overcome Anxiety

For many years, anxiety was a part of my daily reality. I woke up in a panic and went to bed feeling completely drained from stress and fear. It wasn’t necessarily screaming all day, but there was often a quiet whisper of unease.

My anxiety showed up in may areas of my life, from my relationship to food, to my  business. On my best days, it was a slight whisper. And on my worst days, I could barely get out of bed.

I know I’m not alone in this.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million Americans over the age of 18 are affected by anxiety — roughly 18 percent of the nation’s population.

You’ve probably experienced anxiety too…the sense of uncontrollable, panicked, intense worry. The racing heartbeat, the pressure inside your ribcage, the shortness of breath, the racing of fearful thoughts.

For many of us, anxiety is situational—it’s caused by a circumstance, environment, or person in our life. Recently, for me, it was my work. For you, it might be something else.  Maybe it’s your job. Maybe it’s a social situation. Maybe it's dating. Maybe it’s something that triggers insecurity, like scrolling though social media or dating apps, or going to an event where you won't know a lot of people. No matter what it is, that trigger can feel paralyzing and it's helpful to have tools to get yourself back to a headspace of calm.

Ideally, we could walk away from whatever it is that brings up anxiety in our lives. But sometimes that’s not possible, and necessarily the right thing to do.

When I work with my one-on-one clients, they often share similar experience. It seems as if there’s an area in everyone’s life that brings up anxiety, fear, and dread.  

There are difficult situations in all of our lives—it’s part of the human condition.

You don’t have to wait until your circumstances change for your experience to change.  And while I always encourage people to seek to bring about change so that their lives are not filled with anxiety, it’s crucial to find a way to move through anxiety and choose peace in the midst of your difficult situation.

So, what’s the solution?

Even though I was still stuck in my circumstances, I was ready to let go of anxiety and release it from my life.  I had no choice, I had to get out of bed, I had to show up.  I was lucky, I had a bunch of tools that could help me get out what felt like paralyzing fear and into a state of action. I hope the tools below can help you to get out of the fear and into the action.

Here are some of the ways I reclaimed peace, joy, and light in my life. If you’re ready to take the first step towards reframing your mindset, keep reading.


ACTION

"Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action." Walter Anderson 

Action is the number one thing I need to do to get myself out of the anxiety. I recognized that as long as I could get out of my head and into some form of action, the fear would start to dissipate. After taking small steps to remove myself from the paralyzing cycle of anxiety and negativity, the attack would minimize. These steps can be so small, but so alleviating.  

These small, first actions aren’t easy, so be gentle as you work on yourself. And in the midst of it all, repeat these words:

Either I grow, or my anxiety grows. It’s my choice.

Below are some of my go-to steps for getting myself out of fear and into action. Some days I use all of them, and some times just one.  All of them, help to take you out of your head and into your body so that you can release the panic and move into action.

BREATHWORK

When the panic came on, I would immediately feel it in my chest.  At times, it literally felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I knew I had to get control over that.

One of my favorite parts of my yoga teacher trainings was always the breathwork. I noticed that the more attention I put on my breath, the more control I had over my anxiety.  So when the “morning scaries” would start, I’d start incorporating breathwork into my morning ritual and my daily life.

Conscious deep-breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system and brings our bodies into a state of deep, renewing rest and calm.

So, in the middle of an anxiety attack, conscious breathwork can be the most powerful action you can take.

Here’s one of my favorites breathwork exercises that you can practice on your own:

First, get into a comfortable position, whether lying down or sitting. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly, and begin taking long, slow breaths. Pay attention to the breathe in your body.  Really feeling it coming in on the inhale and letting it out on the exhale.

After a few breath cycles, start counting. Inhale through your nose for five seconds and then exhale through your mouth for the same amount of time.

Focus your attention on filling your belly, then your ribs, and then your chest…then slowly release. Really feel it filling you up, the warmth going through your nose, the fullness of your belly, ribs and chest and then the relief of slowly letting it out through your mouth.

In less than ten minutes, you will begin to enter a headspace of calm, grounded logic.

You can practice this in public as well. Many times, I’ve found a quiet restroom or taken a walk outside while focusing on my breath.  

MOVEMENT

I have always believed that physical movement is a key part to handling my moods and fears. As early as I can remember I knew: the more I moved my body, the more I experienced peace and lightness. So I began incorporating more movement into my daily life. Studies have shown that regular participation in exercise decreases overall levels of tension, elevates and stabilizes one’s mood, improves sleep, and improves self-esteem.

Ideally, I shoot for one hour of dedicated movement five days a week. This can be riding my bike, yoga, boxing, or anything that feels fun and challenging.  

I also noticed that short spurts of movement can help in the moments that anxiety is actually hitting. When I feel overwhelmed and have to step back, I have been choosing quick bursts of movement in order to move the anxiety out. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

So, I have found that blasting a high-energy song and either dancing around my apartment, bouncing on my rebounder, or doing jumping jacks can quickly change my mood into a place of joy that lessens the stories of all the worries.

It changes the energy of my body and my head. And while these steps didn’t rid me of anxiety completely, it became an important daily ritual that helped me stay centered, even during stressful situations.

JOURNALING

There are times when the anxiety becomes worse, and doing the above just wasn’t enough. The stories of all my inadequacies, and all the worst case scenarios would get so loud that it would feel like forward action wasn’t possible.

In those moments, when my mind began to race with anxious thoughts, I’d pull out my journal. I’d write out all my worries about the future in detail—literally writing out my worst fears. Articulating my panicked thoughts helped me to recognize that most of my fears were completely unfounded and unlikely.

We often are so caught up in the fear of what might happen that we get overwhelmed. We begin to live in the terrible, negative energy of something that hasn’t even happened. This is why it’s so crucial to reframe your thoughts and choose a new perspective. We have the power to see things the way we want to see them. Claim that power.

Journaling was a way to see the craziness that I was thinking and dismiss it more easily.  


By bringing these practices into my life, I was able to get to a place of "knowing" that my anxiety would leave once I got into action. Through breathwork, movement, and journaling, I could get back into my correct mind and accept that the fear I was creating was not real. I could choose to release the weight of anxiety and step into a place of peace.

And that’s my wish for you—that your life would be flooded with peace, even during the most difficult situations that you face.

Breaking Negative Patterns-One easy ritual to rewire your self sabotaging patterns

PHOTO A WILD DOVE

PHOTO A WILD DOVE

We’ve all been there. It’s the end of a long day, a family member makes an ill-timed comment, and we fly off the handle. For a moment, we feel entitled to our anger and frustration.
 
But a split second later — we’re flooded with regret, guilt, shame. 
 
Again, we’ve allowed a negative pattern to control our actions instead of allowing love + light to fuel our responses. Again, we’re speaking from a place of fear, scarcity, or ego. Again.

YOU MUST FIRST IMPROVE YOUR MINDSET, BEFORE YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR LIFE.
— LEWIS HOWES

 Over these past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about patterns, and the power they hold in our lives. 
 
As I’ve transitioned out of the fast-paced, high-stress life of owning a Manhattan cafe, I’ve reassessed and rebuilt many of the rhythms that define my life.
 
My rushed anxiety filled mornings have been replaced by an intentional mindful start...No matter how much earlier I might have to wake up, my morning starts with meditation, intention setting and journaling. This is non negotiable for me...
 
I used to work sun-up to sun-down to keep Gingersnap’s running. Now, I might spend my day doing things that feed my soul. Intentionally, that includes helping clients move towards healing and empowerment.
 
Dread and resentment towards my career have shifted towards pleasure, joy, and gratitude. I’ve become myself again, the same little girl who lined up crystals on her windowsills and lived from a soul-deep place of trust.
 
New choices. New experiences. New patterns.
 
Now, I see you, reading this in your claustrophobic cubicle at the end of a long day, or scrolling through this on your phone after another tense conversation with your partner.
 
You’re tempted to say: Well, that’s nice for her.
 
Or you’re tempted to ask: Why not me? 
 
But I’m going to ask that question right back at you. Why NOT you?
 
Sure, it might not be the right time for you to walk away from your stagnant career or stale relationship. 
 
But it’s always the right time to claim a new perspective, open yourself up to new opportunities, and step into a space of empowerment.
 
And sometimes, the biggest changes start with the smallest baby-steps.
 
So no matter where you’re at in your journey towards claiming your ideal life, I want to share a simple exercise that will help you build a healthy pattern in one crucial area of your life: communication.


I want you to think back to a recent, frustrating conversation with someone in your life: a friend, your neighbor, the intern, the in-laws, your partner. 
 
Do you remember the moment where you lost control? Do you remember how you responded with arrogance or with anger, with a sharp tone or a passive aggressive comment? And do you remember how you felt afterwards? Heavy? Guilty? Upset? Tight?
 
Here’s a simple tool to help you break this pattern of broken communication and claim peace in your interactions.

 
First, begin your morning with a mantra. Just for today, I will pause before I react. 
 

As you speak the mantra, lightly touch a piece of jewelry or a spot on your body. Imagine yourself pausing. Taking a breath. Waiting, for just a moment. Imagine what you will feel like when you choose to rise above immediate reaction and instead choose a positive outcome.
 
Then, when you’re triggered to respond harshly to another human during your day, lightly touch that same piece of jewelry or area of your body. Allow yourself a moment to feel the energy of your intention. Just for today, I will pause before I react.
 
This breath of pause will empower you to approach the conversation from a new angle and a new perspective, with empathy instead of anger. And so often, your shifted attitude, from reaction to outcome, will make you more likely to get what you want out of the interaction. 


 If you’re ready to step even deeper into healing, I’d love to work with you to claim opportunities, clear your energy, and help you step into a new place of empowerment. Maybe you’re interested in a short mindset conversation, or maybe you want to dive into a full reiki session that involves crystals, energy healing, and breathwork.
 
Either way, if you’re ready to take radical responsibility for your life and your future, let’s talk.
 

When it might be time to make a change : An Interview with A Wild Dove

The original article was published in A Wild Dove

PHOTO A WILD DOVE 

PHOTO A WILD DOVE 

 

Jamie Graber recently made a change, a big one. After seven years owning the popular West Village cafe Gingersnaps Organic, she chose to focus on wellness and lifestyle coaching and recently launched her new website Organically Jamie. It’s not easy to make a change as an adult, and we wouldn’t be alone in often wondering, “What If?” We spoke with Jamie on how she came to make that leap of faith and what’s lies ahead in her next chapter.

A Wild Dove

So you’ve made a huge transition recently. Many of us are probably experiencing similar desires to make a change but we fear what lies ahead. Can you walk us through your thought process in making the change and offer some guidance for our readers?

Jamie Graber

It was a difficult decision and one that I took a long time to make. As the years rolled along with Gingersnap’s I felt less and less inspired. I sat with that and noticed that I was feeling depressed and each day it was more difficult for me to get up and go. Once I got there, I would see the customers and light up, but often I had to go handle some store emergency. I made lists of the things that lit me up and then lists of what I spent my day doing. I took a look at those lists and saw that they were very different and it was in that moment that I knew I had to make a huge change.

My advice is meditate and journal for a month. Notice what you do daily that makes you happy and what doesn't. 
Make lists and compare them. Get a coach to help you navigate making changes.

A Wild Dove

We love how you refer to your work as Cognitive Reframing Sessions. Can you tell us what that means and share what those sessions are like?

Jamie Graber

It is the idea that you have the ability to choose the way you see the world.  We can choose to see life as happening to us or for us. It is your perception that will change the outcome and the journey. It is finding out the thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back and training yourself to see it differently. It is behavioral training that changes the way you perceive the world. It is similar to the Law of Attraction, but goes deeper than that. You have to sit and see what your blocks are and then we do the work to remove them, through pattern changing and Reiki, which is a subtle body energy work that helps facilitate block removals.

A Wild Dove

That makes total sense to us. Especially since we're all trying the be the best versions of ourselves.
For the busy mamas you coach, what is some advice to help them balance, restore and thrive?

Jamie Graber

Start with knowing that there is a reason they tell you to put your mask on first during the safety portion of flights. You can’t be of service to your family without taking care of yourself first, and that is not being selfish. Finding a way to move your body at least 45 minutes a few times a week. There are so many options. The important part is finding something that works for you, something that is fun and therapeutic.  And I would say a daily, nonnegotiable is to sit quiet for a minimum of 10 minutes and do some form of mediation.  This can be mantra based, guided, anything that helps you sit quiet, and breathe.  Long breaths in and out.

A Wild Dove

Food and cleansing was also such a big part of Gingersnaps, how do you think those themes parlay into the work you're doing now?


Jamie Graber

It all goes back to prioritizing yourself and doing things that make you feel good.  Everyone feels better when they are making conscious choices, whether food, thoughts, company. Some sessions are mostly about food, but that is just a small part.  It is the deeper feelings of self worth that most people have to work on.  When you are loving yourself, it is so much easier to make better food choices.

A Wild Dove

It’s amazing to see you truly following your heart. What are some suggestions you can give to others seeking to empower themselves and follow their dreams?

Jamie Graber

Meditate, sit, quiet your mind.  Take the time to really observe what you are doing daily and see if that is bringing you closer to what you really want. I can’t say enough how important I think having a coach can be. The ability to have someone who can be objective about what they see as your blind spots and then holding you accountable is priceless.

A Wild Dove

What makes you fly?

Jamie Graber

Seeing clients, friends and family make changes in their lives based on our discussions. Laughing with my friends and family. Noticing all the blessings and love that surrounds me. Fun projects with my husband, we are currently copper electroforming crystals.

I opened my dream business, so why was I so miserable?

(Original article posted in Well + Good) As many of you know this was a year of big decisions for me.  After 7 years of owning Gingersnap's Organic, I decided it was time to close the doors.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, but thankfully also one of the best.  I wrote an article for Well and Good, to talk about how to know when it's time to walk away. Please see the article below.  The full article is available at Wellandgood.com

photo jay peeples

photo jay peeples

When Gingersnap’s Organic closed up shop in January, it broke (healthy) hearts across New York City who had come to rely on the cult fave West Village raw food and juice bar. Here, owner Jamie Graber talks about how to know when to walk away from something that was everything you ever wanted.

If someone would have told me a year ago that I would walk away from my dream-come-true business serving raw, plant-based, healing food to New York City’s West Village—I would have politely ignored them. I probably would have thought they were crazy.

And yet, here I am. I let go of my dream earlier this year. The one I’d worked for years to achieve, and even more years to sustain. And, yes, I mourned it. But how do I really feel? Surprisingly, I am more optimistic and excited about the future than ever.

This is the part no one told me about going after my dreams: that it’s okay to let them go as well.

But “year ago” me would never have believed it. Back then, I knew exactly what my path was and there was no way for it to be different. I was the owner of Gingersnap’s Organic, a successful cleanse company and cafe that ruled my entire life. As far as I was concerned, I had arrived, and it was all about keeping it going—and my day-to-day was going to remain exactly as it always was, constantly solving problems and never getting to exhale.

It is no shocker to hear that running a restaurant, especially in Manhattan, is hard. There are slim margins and lots of chaos. One thing you can count on: Every day you will be faced with a new problem to solve. It can be as small as running out of an item or as large as, oh crap the juicer isn’t working. Either way, I have been the one solving each and every one of those problems for over six years straight, and frankly, I am tired.

When trying to figure out where I go from here, I had a few choices. I could continue with Gingersnap’s Organic and just accept it as my life, or I could have someone else run it. Neither of those sounded right, so I continued to search for a way out of this feeling. Then I went at a workshop about manifestation, and that is when things started to change.

I could have chosen to continue to down the path of frustration and non-fulfillment, or I could turn left into happiness and inspiration. I chose to make the left.

I signed up for a one-on-one session and that decision forever changed my reality. In my first-time session with Lacy, she asked me an important question: “What if your purpose isn’t Gingersnap’s? What if that’s not it?” For a few months, I couldn’t stop hearing her saying it.

I had this dream job, but I would wake up each day in anxiety. I would say to my husband often, “I’m managing employees and vendors instead of healing people. And I just don’t want to do it.”

Finally, I realized: I could choose to continue down the path of frustration and non-fulfillment, or I could turn left into happiness and inspiration. I chose to make the left.

And so the doors of Gingersnap’s Organic closed at the end January, and I’m excited to say I have never been so fulfilled as I am now. I was so afraid to lose my identity as a business owner that I was blocking myself from getting clear on what my purpose truly is.

PHOTO A WILD DOVE

PHOTO A WILD DOVE

 

Throughout the years, I have spent many days at Gingersnap’s spending time with my clients, talking them through their struggles with food, relationships, and just general how to find happiness in the despair. I have been asked to coach, do relationship therapy, give cooking lessons, speak at events, but I rarely had time to say yes. A while back, I started to accept a small number of clients and worked with them in the few hours I had away from the cafe.

The more time I spent with them, the more I lit up. It opened me up to how I truly can serve people in the best way possible. The truth is, I didn’t open Gingersnap’s because I wanted a restaurant. I wanted to heal people and create community—and in the next phase can do that on an even more grand scale.

So, should you quit your job, leave your husband, or move across the world on a whim? I am in no way advocating that. But I am saying that every struggle can be met with opportunity, as long as you are able to see it. It is important to allow yourself to step away from something that is no longer serving you, even when you are afraid.

As Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

Finding Peace in a Turbulent Time, with Jamie Graber and Anne Marie Imperiale; three-part program: 7–9 p.m. March 20, March 27, and April 3; New York City (address provided upon registration); $199; organicallyjamie.com