Bustle - 11 Hacks For People With High-Functioning Anxiety That Experts Swear By
11 Hacks For People With High-Functioning Anxiety That Experts Swear By
The intersection of mental health and brain science are not always at the forefront. However, a lot of the clichés on what helps stress is actually grounded in significant research and expertise on anxiety and the brain. And when you try these little tricks to feel better, you will know you're doing something that has the support of experts.
High-functioning anxiety is no less all-consuming than other forms of anxiety. "High-functioning anxiety is common in people who can power through anxiety with hard work and dedication, often with positive outcomes," Dr. Amy Serin, co-founder and Chief Science Officer of The TouchPoint Solution, tells Bustle. "However, this chronic state of having your stress switch turned on often leaves people with exhaustion, burnout, trouble sleeping, and even health problems." And no one deserves to walk through life with that level of pain.
Whether it's professional help, or seeking support with yourself and your family, just taking the first step is a big deal if you have high-functioning anxiety. "People with high-functioning anxiety want to appear strong and capable of being able to handle everything that life throws at them," Prakash Masand M.D., a psychiatrist and founder of the Centers of Psychiatric Excellence, tells Bustle, "So naturally, asking for help is something most people with high-functioning anxiety have a difficult time with." One great place to start looking for help is within the world of brain science, since anxiety lives in the brain. By bringing in friends, professional help, and your own mental health toolkit, you can understand your thoughts better and hopefully start to feel some relief.
Here are 11 hacks for people with high-functioning anxiety that experts swear by.
1. View Rest As A Non-Negotiable
If you have high-functioning anxiety, you might describe yourself as a night owl, or someone who "doesn't need that much sleep" when really you're up late worrying, or pushing tasks until later at night since they're triggering your anxious thoughts. Still, however, experts say you need to take a step back and take care of yourself by resting.
"We all know that sleep is a vital and non-negotiable need," Dr. Marissa Long, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Southern California, Founder of the ThriveWISEmental health and wellness subscription box, tells Bustle. "We also know that for many of us, it is the first thing to get cut when we have too many priorities to manage at once ... While the ideal amount of sleep can vary from person to person, it's important to know what works best for you and guard that time at all costs." Even if you struggle with insomnia, breaking off this time even just to close your eyes, or lay in bed, can be really helpful for your mental health.
2. Practice Breathing Techniques
Breathing techniques are a tried-and-true form of anxiety relief. And that's not just because they're easy and free; they're actually backed up by a good amount of science.
"The positive effects of a deep breathing practice have been shown in research over and over again," Dr. Long says. "Deep breathing can reduce blood pressure, improve digestive functioning, regulate sleep and decrease anxiety." So try having a moment to focus on your breath once in the morning, and once in the evening. These dedicated moments can help you feel more equipped to handle life's stressors.
3. Learn To Challenge Your Thoughts
Brain and anxiety experts are all about using your brain to fight your symptoms, of course. So naturally they're inclined to want to help you use your thoughts as medicine. "Our thoughts are a huge part of anxiety and our ability to manage our thoughts can make a major difference in how effectively we can manage our anxiety," Dr. Long says. So listen to your thoughts, and challenge them, if you feel able.
"People with high-functioning anxiety tend to have a lot of negative self-talk," Prakash Masand M.D., a psychiatrist and founder of the Centers of Psychiatric Excellence, tells Bustle. "Closely monitor the words you use when you speak to yourself." You can either listen to them, or literally write them down. You'll likely find it quite an eye-opening experience.
4. Don't Underestimate Practicing Gratitude
Getting in touch with gratitude may seem like more of a spiritual than cerebral anxiety hack, but the experience is quite well grounded in science.
"Research suggests that practicing gratitude calms the deep limbic system (the emotional center of the brain that’s responsible for managing your mood and attitude) and activates the hypothalamus which regulates metabolism, sleep, and body temperature," authentic success, mindset, and brain health coach Cindy Shaw tells Bustle. "When these regions of the brain are consistently activated, new patterns of neurons fire together to create new thinking and feeling pathways. Over time, the practice of gratitude helps train the brain to fire in a new pattern, creating long-lasting positive changes in the neurological structure of the brain." Whatever way works for you, your brain will thank you.
5. Try Talking To Yourself In Third Person
When it comes to assessing and managing anxious thoughts, sometimes just listening to them and observing them isn't enough. A more proactive way experts say you can help with your high-functioning anxiety is talking to yourself in the third person.
"Studies conducted at the Clinical Psychology Lab at Michigan State Universityfound that when people referred to themselves in the third person, the part of their brain involved in emotional regulation reduced their stress within one second," Shaw says. "Because you feel the way you think, when you talk to yourself like you would speak to and encourage a good friend, you are putting distance between your thoughts and emotions." So, instead of talking to yourself the way you usually do, try talking to yourself like a friend for a day. There's a good chance you'll feel better.
6. Begin Having Honest Conversations With Others
Just beginning to talk about your anxiety openly and honestly can be a major breakthrough for people with high-functioning anxiety (many of whom tend to push their feelings down).
"Maintaining a support system of people who provide positivity can be vital in keeping a happy, healthy mind," Glenn Scott, LCSW, director of the Youth Partial Hospital Program at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center, tells Bustle. "... Instead of withdrawing from others, be deliberate about staying in communication with the positive people in your life. Isolation can be unhealthy, but connecting with others deeply and honestly can boost your overall well-being." So try to bring yourself back into grounded conversation with the people you care about — they might surprise you.
7. Try Getting In Touch With Your Five Senses
If you deal with high-functioning anxiety, chances are you buzz through the day-to-day without much time to get in touch with your body and the world around you. It may feel overwhelming, but scientists find it incredibly helpful.
"One powerful way to de-escalate if you are losing control is to focus on the physical things that surround you," Scott says. "When stress and anxiety are taking over, one of the best techniques to snap back to the moment is to count five things for each of your senses, making yourself aware of your surroundings and distracting you from the stressors." Start with touch, feeling what's around you, then travel through sound, sight, smell, and taste. Grounding may be exactly what you need.
8. Do Some Light Exercise
A lot of high-functioning anxiety involves pent-up feelings. When you've got a lot of this built-up anxiety stirring around, experts say, often it's a good idea to use movement to help get it out.
"People with high-functioning anxiety are typically full of energy and adrenaline and want to tackle everything that comes their way," Dr. Masand says. "It’s important to find an outlet or activity to release this stored up energy ... [Plus,] since many people with high-functioning anxiety also have insomnia, this can help improve your quality of sleep." Take a walk instead of a drive, try a sport you used to love again, or do some mindful yoga. Your body and mind will likely both be grateful.
9. Start Setting Smaller Goals
One of the things that differentiates high-functioning anxiety from its counterparts is the obsession with perfectionism and goal-setting. While this can help keep you on track, it can also be incredibly harmful. Experts suggest, then, taking it back a notch when it comes to organizing your de-stressing as well.
"While it’s good to have big ambitions, it can be damaging to have goals that are so large that they’re are unrealistic," Scott says. "The feeling of achievement after accomplishing a goal can give you feelings of control over your life, as well as help focus your long-term direction. The sense of purpose achievements bring can strengthen your mind and give you a feeling of peace." So decide to not use your phone before bed for 30 minutes, instead of deciding to get eight whole hours of sleep. Or try to do a breathing technique once this week, instead of putting reminders on your phone every time you expect yourself to do one. Taking the pressure off can be healing.
10. Take A Daily Break
Setting a goal for some quiet time is essential for people with high-functioning anxiety, who often feel propelled forward by stress and worry. If having a time scheduled doesn't add extra stress, try integrating moments of calm into your schedule to quiet your mind and body.
"It can be as short as 20 to 30 minutes, but just find a quiet, relaxing spot and disconnect from the world around you," Dr. Masand says. "Having a rest and relaxation routine is important for everyone, but this is especially true for high-functioning anxiety sufferers. Get comfortable, listen to soothing music, take a hot bath, journal or whatever it is that brings you peace." If it feels too overwhelming to adjust your schedule recurrently, try adding it just once into your week. You deserve the downtime.
11. Give Yourself Permission To Put Yourself First
As someone living with high-functioning anxiety, you likely have all sorts of priorities and goals. If your own personal wellbeing isn't at the top of that list, however, you likely have a clear first step to take in terms of lessening your anxiety.
"It’s really nice to want to help other people and go out of your way to make a difference for someone else, but people with high-functioning anxiety tend to do this more than they should and even put the needs of others in front of their own," Dr. Masand says. "Nobody is saying you have to become mean and not help people, but always make sure you are taking care of yourself, your body, your health and everything in your own life before you go out and try to be a hero to everyone else." In pursuit of this, it's alright to occasionally say "no," and to put personal in front of professional development when you need to. Some pressure might dissipate once you begin to make these distinctions.
Whatever your anxiety tends to revolve around, there are a variety of tried-and-true ways to help calm it down by using your own brain to feel better. Experts cannot guarantee complete relief, but they can offer some great advice for those with high-functioning anxiety who need a little less stress in their day-to-day lives. "It’s important to not make stress-management stressful," Serin says. So know that you deserve to find the kind of help that works best for you, as an individual.
Parenting In Progress - 2018 Back to School Guide: Personal Care Must-Haves
2018 Back to School Guide: Personal Care Must-Haves
Does your child find back to school time stressful? Touchpoints use neuroscience technology to reduce stress. These are wearable devices that you can wear to help with any stress and anxiety you might be feeling during the school year. My oldest is a senior and college student this year and has suffered from anxiety for several years now. This is a healthy and non-medication alternative that helps her reduce her stress level in minutes. It’s a great solution.
TouchPoints, non-invasive wearable devices that are worn on either side of the body (on the wrists, pockets, socks, etc) and use patent-pending neuroscience technology shown to reduce stress by up to 70% in just 30 seconds.
Two models are available:
- TouchPoints Basic: Manually controlled with three settings (sleep, calm, anger). This model is perfect for elementary and junior high students. ($160)
- TouchPoints Original: Controlled via smartphone (iOS and Android compatible) with six settings (calm, focus, sleep, performance, anger, and cravings). High school and college students prefer this model. ($250)
Here is a case study to show how TouchPoints can be used to manage stress, hyperactivity, lack of proactivity and focus while at school.
Learn More Today:
*This article first appeared in Parenting In Progress on August 11, 2018, by BETHANY1980. To read the full article, click here.
Viral Thread - This truly amazing piece of tech is making stress a thing of the past
This truly amazing piece of tech is making stress a thing of the past
We've all had one of those days. You know, the ones where you got up late because you couldn't sleep last night, you're horrendously behind schedule for work, the phone's ringing off the hook with calls from your boss who already hates you, your car has broken down, your kid is off school sick, and you feel like no one on earth has experienced stress quite like this.
You're certainly not the only one to feel this way, but despite what you may think, there is a solution to your problem. And, yes, it's one that doesn't mean walking around your office with a pained smile that tells your co-workers that "everything's fine", while you secretly scream inside.
Allow us to introduce you to TouchPoints, the wearable stress relief devices which could be the answer to nearly your every worry. Founded in 2015, TouchPoints alleviate stress through neuroscience and technology, working by sending vibrations that disengage the body’s instinctive 'fight or flight' response to stressful situations. Using patent-pending technology called BLAST, they offer a discreet and non-invasive method to remedy taxing moments in life.
When a person is feeling pressured - whether this be through a big presentation coming up at work, an unpleasant conversation that needs to be had with a manager, a desperate need for sleep, or whatever else - TouchPoints shifts the individual back into thinking with the logical, rational part of their brain, incredibly making their stress seem manageable.
If you're looking for results, look no further than this impressive statistic: TouchPoints users have reported a 71 percent reduction in body sensations within 30 seconds.
Perhaps the revolutionary device has been so successful because it comes from a very personal place for its creators. Co-founder and CEO of The TouchPoint Solution, Vicki Mayo, spent countless sleepless nights watching her daughter experience vivid night terrors before reaching out to her friend Dr. Amy Serin for help.
"It was horrible. I felt helpless, like there was nothing I could do for her," Vicki said. "The whole family was suffering because she would wake up nightly and we’d all be awake. The following mornings we would be exhausted - we were caught in a spiral I couldn’t get out of. I felt like I had tried everything, and we were at our wit's end."
Having isolated a component of successful PTSD treatment, neuropsychologist Dr. Serin was using it to research the impact of stress-reduction using a handheld device on children, and soon suggested that Vicki's daughter try her product.
The treatment provided fantastic results and soon enough, Vicki and Dr. Serin decided to team up to create an instant stress-reduction solution that could help out individuals all across the globe who were grappling with stressful workloads.
Since then, the company has soared, with many of its users unable to praise it enough. Take TouchPoints user Wanda Gibson's husband, for example. After he was deployed nine years ago, he returned a "different man", who was often angry, impatient and depressed, and was soon diagnosed with PTSD.
After testing different methods of recovery, including counseling and medication, Wanda feared she would never have any resemblance of her old husband back. Until she discovered TouchPoints.
"I convinced him to try the sleep setting and the first night he slept better than he had in years!" said Wanda. "We are now three months out from the purchase. My sweet, gentle, kind husband has returned. He’s used them almost daily since then and I have no doubt that he has built new neuropathways which has helped him cope with the daily stresses that he encounters. He feels a million times better and is now equipped to deal with difficult situations with hope."
Wanda and her husband have joined thousands of others raving about TouchPoints - and you could be next. Next time you find that pained grimace emerging on your face in the office, you know what to do.
*This article first appeared in Viral Thread on July 30, 2018, by Emma Brazell. To read the full article, click here.
Voyage Phoenix - Conversations with the Inspiring Vicki Mayo
Conversations with the Inspiring Vicki Mayo
Today we’d like to introduce you to Vicki Mayo.
Vicki, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Entrepreneurialism is in my blood. My dad and all of my uncles lived the “American Dream” by immigrating from India and growing successful businesses over the course of their lifetime. My brothers and I had excellent role models, and I started my first business when I was 14 years old. Since then, I have started and grown businesses across the finance, hospitality, tech, and most recently the wellness industry. When I was 20 years old, I adopted two teenage boys who had been abandoned by their parents. I was a single mom for several years before marrying my husband and having two biological children of our own. Today, I’m the CEO of The TouchPoint Solution, a wellness company that offers neuroscience-based solutions to manage stress.
I’ve been knocked down and gotten back up more times than I can count, but I would never have gotten to where I am today if I let stress hamper my motivation and passion. Stress is a reality that we all have to deal with — but learning to channel properly can help you reach new heights. I am a firm believer in the law of abundance and the power of manifestation, and my goal is to share these secrets with the world.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Navigating the highs and lows of starting up life is never an easy road! The #1 thing I’ve learned is to reach out to people. Get their advice, ask their opinion. We’re better together and we can’t do it alone. My husband, who is also the CEO of a global IT firm, has become my confidant throughout this journey. Having gone through this experience himself, he has been able to offer guidance and advice to me in so many ways. I encourage all women to seek advice from others who have embarked on this journey. There’s something to learn from everyone – all you have to do is ask!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The TouchPoint Solution story. Tell us more about the business.
Stress is a global epidemic that underlies 80% of all mental and physical diseases, yet only a small percentage of people receive treatment due to rising health insurance costs and lack of available resources. Traditional methods of managing stress include prescription medication, therapy and living a long-term healthy lifestyle (think yoga, meditation, proper nutrition, etc.). The problem is that both options are time intensive before any tangible results are seen – a high price to pay for our wellbeing. Today, advances in neuroscience and new technology can actively work with the brain to offer a natural and effective solution to stress and anxiety in real time.
This is why my co-founder and I, neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin, teamed up: to provide neuroscience-based solutions that are scientifically proven to reduce stress by up to 70% in as few as 30 seconds. Dr. Serin discovered that a component of successful PTSD treatment can be used as a stand-alone product for a range of individuals whose stress and intensities hamper performance, relaxation, sleep, and their ability to cope with sensory stimuli. We realized that this method was too powerful a treatment to be confined to a doctor’s office, which resulted in bringing TouchPoints, neuroscientific wearables, to the world.
Using gentle, haptic micro vibrations called BLAST (bilateral alternating stimulation tactile), TouchPoints give the user a gentle vibration that affects the brain and alters the body’s fight, flight or freeze response to restore calm nervous system functioning. This not only helps to reduce the amount of perceived stress experienced, but also the associated body sensation that comes with it (i.e., stomach butterflies or tightness in the chest). Having the ability to think rationally without an associated body sensation helps the brain create new neural pathways that are net positive, and this has a lasting effect on your brain.
Working on this product for the past two years has been one of the most humbling yet exciting experiences of my entire life. I used to think that stress was something we had to “just live with”. And to a certain extent, it is. Some stress can be good for you if you learn how to channel it properly. But for many people, myself included, stress can build up over time. If we don’t find ways to manage it, it can lead to much more severe physical, mental and emotional long-term side effects. Stress is a universal concept, but how it manifests in each of us is highly personal. TouchPoints are a tool that anyone can add to their toolbox to de-stress at the touch of a button.
The most rewarding part of my job is hearing from our customers about how TouchPoints have changed their lives. From overcoming childhood adversity to learning to manage their anger and becoming more productive at work – TouchPoints have helped more than 100,000 people across the world live better lives through neuroscience. Including myself and my family!
What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
As Mr. Wonderful Kevin O’Leary said, he prefers to invest in women-owned companies because they perform better than male-led companies. Women have a knack for not just out-of-the-box thinking but for literally getting rid of the box. I think it’s up to us women to change the conversation from challenges to our successes.
- TouchPoints Basic – $160
- TouchPoints Original – $250
- Website: www.ilovetouchpoint.com
- Phone: (877) 778-6824
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ilovetouchpoint/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ilovetouchpoint/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ILoveTouchPoint
- Other: https://medium.com/better-living-through-neuroscience
*This article first appeared in Voyage Phoenix on July 10, 2018. To read the full article, click here.
Innovation Freak - Keep Calm Like Never Before
A wearable device that can reduce or eliminate your stress or anxiety in 30 seconds? It almost sounds too good to be true but after chatting with Vicki Mayo from Touchpoint Solutions I learn the true science behind their device… Now I need to try one.
Vicki and I chat about the many different applications that TouchPoints have, reducing stress and anxiety is the one that most people can relate to. For a lot of people, stress seems normal and something that everyone has to deal with it. But after chatting with Vicki and learning about how TouchPoints work, my thoughts on how to reduce stress have changed. Vicki does a wonderful job explaining how TouchPoints work in this short video.
Vick and her team were gracious enough to give you a 10% discount code which is INNOVATIONFREAK. If you get a pair let me know how well they work for you!!
Check out TouchPoint on Facebook!
PODCAST EPISODE 32 WITH VICKI MAYO FROM TOUCHPOINT SOLUTIONS:
Bustle - 7 Signs Your Idea Of Romance Is Actually Sabotaging Your Love Life
Before you ever got into your first relationship, you probably had an idea of what that would look like. You probably thought of who your partner would be, what they would look like, and maybe even where you would meet. Thanks to romantic comedies and now social media, it's so easy to set high expectations for what you think your love life should look like. But according to experts, your idea of love can have a way of sabotaging your relationship if you're not aware of it.
To be fair, having high expectations in your relationship isn't always a bad thing. "Unrealistic expectations like wanting your partner to fulfill your every need can certainly leave people disappointed," Dr. Serin says. "But couples who have high expectations for a supportive friendship, satisfying intimacy, trust, commitment, and the ability to resolve conflict with their partner are on the right track."
So there is a difference between healthy expectations and unhealthy ones. Here are some signs that your idea of romance may be sabotaging your love life, according to experts.
1. Your Prioritize Keeping Your Relationship Hot Over Anything Else
2. You Always Compare Your Relationship To Other Couples
"In our image-driven age, it's very easy to scroll through Instagram and see posts about the peak moments that other couples are having," Dr. Bobby says. Very rarely do you see people posting selfies of themselves locked in the bathroom crying after a big fight, or Instagram stories of themselves yelling at their partner for not doing the dishes when they said they would. "If you combine that with what we're led to believe good relationships should be through movies and shows, it distorts one's sense of what the reality of a normal relationship is," she says. The reality is, relationships are full of ups and downs. Nobody's relationship is perfect. So don't look to other people's relationships and hope yours will be just as good as theirs. As Dr. Bobby says, a much better strategy is to turn your attention to all that is right in your relationship. "Be generous with your praise, and actively appreciative all the ways that your partner makes you happy," she says. "Both you and they will feel the truth of all the good things you do have much more deeply than you do if you're comparing your relationship to some imagined ideal."
3. You Get Even More Upset If Your Partner Doesn't Read Your Emotions
If you believe your partner should be so in sync with you that they know what you're thinking, you expect too much from them. "People are not mind readers," Jeannie Assimos, eharmony's Chief of Advice tells Bustle. "Don’t expect them to just know what to say or do for you." Communication is important for a reason. So be sure to always tell your partner what you need and how you feel.
4. You're Waiting For The Day Your Partner Will Change
"A healthy relationship consists of two people who accept one another and have common goals," dating coach, Anna Morgenstern, tells Bustle. Expecting your partner to change their mind about marriage and kids because you believe they're your soulmate is unrealistic. As Morgenstern says, "You need to be honest about the kind of life you want to lead and have an honest conversation with your partner to make sure your goals align." This includes having similar ideas about where to live, whether to have children, among other things.
5. You Expect Love And Romance To Happen Right Away
If you've been with someone for a while and you've taken the time to get to know each other, you should be able to see the love between you grow. But you shouldn't expect it to happen in an instant. Just because someone wants to go out with you, it doesn't necessarily mean they're going to fall in love and stay in love with you after two or three dates. As Assimos says, love and romance don't just happen without time, effort, and communication. "You have to put in the effort to connect with your partner in order to enjoy the love and romance," she says. "Make the effort to connect emotionally first."
6. You Start Questioning Your Entire Relationship When Your Partner Starts Getting On Your Nerves
When you spend a majority of your free time with someone, it's pretty much a given that you will find something about them that you don't like. "That loving feeling won't always be there. There will be some days where you might find your partner annoying," Assimos says. "That's OK. It's part of being in a real relationship."
7. You Actively Avoid Fights Because You Believe Happy Couples Don't Fight
Happy couples are happy for a reason, right? Well, if you want to be in a healthy and happy relationship, you should expect to have arguments and fights every now and then. If you think "perfect" couples don't fight, you're sadly mistaken. "It's a common misunderstanding that love is easy," Assimos says. "But you definitely need to work at it." If you hold yourself back from talking out issues in your relationship, it can cause unnecessary stress or resentment.
So, if these expectations are unrealistic, which relationship goals are? "There are so many achievable goals that couples can and probably should strive for," Assimos says. These are just some of the most important ones: Couples should try to have open and honest conversation, consistent connection, quality time, fun together and shared life experiences on a regular basis. If you have that, your relationship is going to be as "perfect" as it can be.
WRBL-TV Columbus - TouchPoints Feature
This Mother’s Day, why not give Mom tech gifts she’ll love? From smartphones to wearable technology to TouchPoints, WRBL-TV Columbus explores the latest technology trends that are finding a place in every home.
Click the link above to watch TouchPoints featured on WRBL-TV, a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Columbus, Georgia, United States and serving the Chattahoochee Valley of west-central Georgia and east-central Alabama.
WTVF Nashville - TouchPoints Feature
This Mother’s Day, why not give Mom tech gifts she’ll love? From smartphones to wearable technology to TouchPoints, WTVF explores the latest technology trends that are finding a place in every home.
Click the link above to watch TouchPoints featured on WTVF, virtual channel 5, a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Nashville, Tennessee, United States.
TONIC (Vice) - How to Get Yourself to Exercise if You're Depressed
Psychologists gave us 7 ways to motivate yourself to work out when it's the last thing you want to do.
I remember waking up one spring morning about three years ago agitated from multiple efforts to extract the most aggressive of running shorts wedgies. I had slept in full running gear, boob-smashing sports bra included, and my sneakers were on the floor directly next to my bed, per instructions from my therapist. She was trying to get me to go outside for a jog as soon as I woke up in the morning and this seemed like the path of least resistance.
Let me back up. I went through a phase of mild depression in 2015 after moving to a new city where I knew no one except for the partner who had just broken up with me. Depression feels different to everyone, and mine was basically sad movie-sobbing plus fear intertwined with anxiety—a fun combo platter. So on top of being too exhausted to do much (a common physical symptom of the weepies), I would get really angsty and negative in the morning. I had a bomb ass therapist though, who rocked with me to and through this phase, and one of the things she pushed was exercise.
Exercise is not a cure for any type of mental illness, but it really helps for a lot of people. It made a huge difference for me. “Just getting activated, behaviorally, is a useful treatment for depression,” says Nicholas Forand, assistant professor of psychiatry at Zucker School of Medicine at Hoftsra/Northwell Health. “The act of getting out and engaging in some goal directive behavior and getting some positive feedback—that can help shift the tide a little bit in terms of feeling depressed.” Forand also tells me that aerobic exercise (a.k.a. cardio) has been shown to help people with depression feel better.
Here’s the thing, and I can testify: It’s really hard to get a depressed person to work out. In my mind, exercising was a lot of work and I couldn’t fathom why or how it would enhance my life, which at that point was basically an early Adele album. But my therapist—like any worth their co-pay—was adamant. And her calculated strategies got me out, moving around—even if only for a few minutes—and feeling like a more familiar version of myself. So if you ever find yourself in the situation I was in, here's a little hope in the form of seven ways to get yourself to work out, starting with the running-shorts-to-sleep technique that proved successful for me.
Make it as easy as possible for yourself.
“The hardest thing is task initiation—to get started,” Forand tells me. Give yourself a chance to succeed by setting up your environment in a way where it makes it easier to do the hard thing.” Hence, wearing the running attire to bed. If I’m already dressed, all my depressed, sluggish ass needs to do is to walk out the door. Do whatever you need to do to eliminate all obstacles that could make you want to give up and go back to bed, he says.
Be extremely realistic.
“People often say they’re going to wake up at 5:30 and go to the gym when there’s a zero percent chance that that’s actually going to happen. You set yourself up to fail,” he says. And that failure can be incredibly demoralizing. Achieving goals is something that’s crucial to your self-esteem at this time, so don’t play yourself like this. “Set realistic expectations for yourself. What would be a better time to go to the gym? Maybe you feel a little better when you’re coming home from work, or maybe at lunchtime. Arrange it around that instead of doing it at a time where you’re already working against yourself.”
Going to the gym for an hour may feel impossible, adds Amy Serin, neuropsychologist and chief science officer of the TouchPoint Solution, a healthcare tech company, but walking for five minutes outside may feel doable. “Exercise doesn’t have to be a heart-pounding, sweat-dripping experience to be effective,” she says. “Even small amounts of moderate activity can go a long way toward lifting someone out of a depressive funk. And once the first small step is taken, it’s easier to add on to the behavior.”
Reinstate an old exercise habit (if you had one).
“It’s easier to build a habit off of old neural pathways that are already established rather than forging new ones,” Serin says. “So if you used to do a kickboxing workout regularly, for example, start with that because the habit can be reactivated easier than starting something totally new. Use your neural networks to your advantage.” Serin assures me that if you weren’t active beforehand, you can still implement exercise into your routine now, but it might take longer.
Make your workout something you actually want to do.
“If you’re telling yourself the only way to work out is to go to the gym and run on a treadmill for an hour—which sounds horrible to me—of course I’m not going to want to do it,” Forand says. “I like riding my bike. So instead of going to the gym and torturing myself, I ride my bike on the weekend.” There’s no wrong way to be active, he adds, especially if you’re not working out at all. “Any kind of exercise is better than nothing, so you might as well make it interesting to you.”
Treat yo’self (after you actually exercise).
“You can create short-term motivation by using psychology’s Premack Principle—equivalent to ‘eat your broccoli and you’ll get dessert,’” Serin says. Make a deal with yourself to do something pleasurable or treat yourself if you exercise; the reward can be small or can even be something that’s a regular part of your day (e.g.: “I will walk this morning for at least 15 minutes and then I can text my friends”).
Hold yourself accountable.
Putting it in your phone’s calendar or setting a realistic plan is an accountability thing, Forand says. What’s even better, though, is to be accountable to someone else. “Sign up for a class and pay money for it. They expect you be there and you’ve got a little bit of skin in the game,” he says. If you can find a workout buddy, that’ll make you less likely to bail since you’d be disappointing someone else. “Or even tell somebody you’re going to do it. Tell someone to hold you accountable.”
Record your triumphant moments.
“Even simple things can feel like they are impossible when someone is depressed and conjuring up motivation can be really, really difficult,” Serin says. So treat exercising like an experiment and you can potentially use the results to fuel you, since your brain might be predicting that exercising will suck. “Approach it with curiosity,” Forand says. “I’ve asked people to write out their predictions—which are usually negative—and then go try it for a little while and see how accurate their predictions were. Often times, the exercise is pretty self-reinforcing and you feel better afterwards." Serin adds that it's hard to remember the positive when depression strikes, so it’s good to keep a reference to remind you that after exercise your mood really did improve temporarily.
ABC15 Arizona - Arizona-Invented TouchPoints, Formerly Buzzies, Now Helping 100,000 People With Autism
Product Watch - TouchPoints: An Easy Way To Reduce Stress And Anxiety
Just like everyone else, I get stressed. Trying to meet deadlines, sitting in a traffic jam caused by everyone deciding to slow down and look at a car with their hazard lights on, navigating interpersonal relationships, and a myriad of external pressures that I’m expected to deal with.
Naturally, I was curious when I saw a product on Indiegogo called TouchPoints which made the bold claim to alleviate stress with the press of a button. These are noninvasive wearable devices that are worn on the user’s wrists. They connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth where one can either make adjustments or use settings already built into the app to help with various forms of stress.
How does it work?
I tend to be very skeptical when companies make claims similar to those made by TouchPoints, but after the 30-second TouchPoints challenge, I will admit I did notice a drop in my stress levels and felt an immediate release in tension throughout my body. This is no mere placebo effect, according to this peer-reviewed study, the BLAST technology used by TouchPoints, “has been shown to modulate the electrical activity of brain networks that mediate the stress response, resulting in a stress-reducing effect in individuals with high reported levels of anxiety, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.”
I continued to use TouchPoints for a couple of weeks and indeed noticed some changes. My stress levels went down and my focus increased. I remembered an incident specifically where I was having trouble getting through a chapter of a book. I found myself reading the same page over and over again. I used the focus setting and once again noticed an improvement in being able to concentrate on the task at hand. As for my stress levels I tend to get anxious when sitting in traffic. I’ve been using the touchpoints and have caught myself in the middle of getting anxious at times, telling myself to relax; something I rarely ever did before.
I was very curious and had a couple of my colleagues use TouchPoints, they all claimed to recognize a significant and swift change in their mood. I can definitely see how this could greatly provide relief to someone in the middle of a panic attack. This truly is a remarkable product and while I would not recommend it replace people who use medication for different anxiety disorders, it could be used in conjunction with medication to greatly help those in need. In fact, TouchPoints even has some case studies of helping kids with ADHD and Autism.
This screen shows how the vibrations can be adjusted via the TouchPoints app available on Android or IOS. One vibration is felt on one wrist, followed by the other. The app comes with settings to help with sleeplessness, anxiety, lack of focus, anger, and certain cravings. These can all be adjusted by:
frequency: how fast the vibrations move from one wrist to the other
intensity: how strong the vibrations can be felt
overlap: the length of time the vibrations can be felt on both wrists
Stress is something that is becoming all too common in our ever-growing society, so it is nice to see that there are people out there trying to make a difference. The touchpoints are very easy to set up and they work instantly. The one problem I had was the aesthetic of the two wristbands. Due to the way the technology works, it is a necessity to have them on both wrists, but as someone who likes to wear watches, it felt strange having something on my wrist that mimics the shape of a watch, maybe in the future there can be a new model with a watch on top.
We interviewed TouchPoints for even greater understanding
Q: What was the original motivation behind TouchPoints?
A: Stress is responsible for 80% of chronic disease. It inhibits our daily functioning by causing a lack of focus, poor sleep, unhealthy eating habits and so much more – but it is rarely given the recognition it deserves for wreaking havoc in our daily lives.
That’s why serial entrepreneur Vicki Mayo and neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin are on a mission to challenge the status quo in the way stress is understood and managed. Traditional methods of managing stress require a significant financial and time investment (therapy, medications, yoga, etc), so finding a way to regulate it while you go about your day represents a profound shift in the way we all can live more productive lives. Dr. Serin believes that managing stress on an ongoing basis is the key to preventing PTSD and other chronic physical and mental illnesses and is committed to improving the world with this neuroscience technology.
For the past decade, Dr. Serin was practicing neuropsychology and therapy. She found out EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapists treating PTSD in war-torn communities and often reported that after therapy people are less likely to get PTSD a second time. Unfortunately, many people don’t get any immediate or ongoing treatment after trauma, as one-on-one therapy is expensive and time-consuming. This was the inspiration behind TouchPoints — how do we bring this type of therapy to the mass market in an affordable, easy-to-use way? With advances in neuroscience, we were able to isolate a component of EMDR therapy (bilateral stimulation) into a consumer wearable (TouchPoints) so that people can be empowered outside of the doctor’s office to live a healthy, stress-free life.
Q: Can you explain to the layman what EMDR therapy is and how it relates to BLAST Technology?
A: EMDR Therapy is a comprehensive, 8-phase form of therapy that integrates bi-lateral stimulation in different forms along with the processing of upsetting memories. BLAST technology is a component of the therapy and Dr. Serin’s revolutionary research quantified using electroencephalogram data that the technology could be used to treat general stress anytime rather than being confined to therapy appointments. Many therapists use TouchPoints in session and people all over the globe are now using TouchPoints to relieve stress, improve sleep, improve performance, and reduce irritability.
Q: How expensive are the alternative treatments to TouchPoints, and how effective are they in comparison?
A: The cost of EMDR therapy can range depending on the therapist credentials and location. In our area, therapy ranges from $120-$250 per session. Other ways of managing stress include taking medication, which usually costs a monthly co-pay and may have side-effects. Meditation is generally free or can be done in conjunction with an app that has a monthly subscription and yoga classes can be free online or cost per class. TouchPoints are not a medical device and are not a cure for specific conditions, but can be used in conjunction with other therapies and a healthy lifestyle. We haven’t found a substitute that helps people de-stress while they go about their day, so this is a major advantage of TouchPoints
Q: Is it more effective to leave the TouchPoints on all day?
How you wear your TouchPoints is completely dependent on how much anxiety a person has. Stress is highly personal based on a complex set of risk factors (genetics, internal emotions, external environments) so some users ‘spot use’ TouchPoints for just a few minutes several times a day, and other users wear TouchPoints many hours during the day. They are more effective when turned on and should be left on during prolonged stressful situations such as giving a presentation, taking a test, or during a heated conversation.
Most TouchPoints users wear their TouchPoints preventatively or on-the-spot for 15 minutes before, during or after a stressful situation. However, we also have many users with Autism, ADHD, or Generalized Anxiety who prefer to wear their TouchPoints all day while in class or at work to regulate their central nervous system. TouchPoints are just as effective if worn for 15 minutes or all day and are actually helping your brain to create new neural pathways – so the next time you experience that same type of stress, it doesn’t feel so bad.
Q: Are there any other products on the market like this?
Most other wearables simply track and report your progress, whereasTouchPoints actually actively reduce stress non-invasively. Having the ability to think rationally without an associated body sensation helps the brain create new neural pathways that are net positive, and this has a lasting effect on your brain. Biofeedback products can help remind people to breathe or pay attention to their stress, but rely on the person to try to bring their stress levels down themselves and stop what they are doing. TouchPoints do the work for you.
Q: Can someone become so accustomed to the sensations of the touchpoints that they stop working?
A: The BLAST technology delivers gentle, non-invasive stimulation that is received by the brain – so becoming accustomed to the stimulation on your body does not alter the efficacy of the treatment. It’s just like listening to a song over and over- your brain may recognize the song but you are still able to hear it no matter how many times you listen to it.
Q: What would you say to people who think this is just a placebo effect?
A: Double-blind placebo-controlled research is used to distinguish placebo effects from real effects of a treatment. Our double-blind placebo-controlled research is showing a spike in cortisol levels (a stress hormone) in the placebo condition vs. no significant increase in cortisol in the active conditions when TouchPoints are on and synchronized. This rules-out the placebo effect. Generally, the placebo effect can account for a 30-40% success rate and our success rate and significance in several samples of thousands of people show a much higher rate of success and between a 62-74% reduction in stress in 30 seconds.
Q: What plans are in store for the future of touchpoints?
A: We are expanding our message of hope for people to #PressAndDestress with TouchPoints and going global with our products. We also have a new app (available on iOS and Android) where users can take their “Personalized Stress Profile” quiz to determine which type of stressful personality they are, read lifestyle tips on how to manage that type of stress, and determine best ways to use their TouchPoints. We continue to innovate and improve based on customer feedback and are adding exciting functionality to our app in the coming months.
The touchpoints are available for sale on their website. The Original model runs at $250, while the basic model runs at $160. The basic model comes with three basic yet popular settings: Sleep, Calm, and Anger. The Original runs a bit higher but gives the user more control when it comes to the settings. Our readers get a 10% discount on orders of $99 or more when they enter in the promo code ‘PRODUCTWATCH’.