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August 16, 2018

It isn’t always easy to know how to stop overthinking things. Any worrier knows the trap of too much overthinking that can land you in the quicksand of rumination that makes you feel even worse, and stuck. Yes, worry can be productive, but it can also be dangerous. The key to being able to protect from the downward spiral of overthinking is to understand the difference between worry and rumination, and know where the tipping point lies between them.

Worry and rumination are similar, but importantly not the same. Worry is defined as, “a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.” Worry is the cognitive part of anxiety, the thinking part necessary to imagine potential solutions. At its best, it is active and purposeful.

Rumination is likewise a cognitive aspect of anxiety, but instead focuses on the symptoms, causes and consequences of distress, rather than its solutions. Long associated with anxiety disorders and depression, rumination is a kind of negative circular thinking that exacerbates anxious feelings, impairs problem solving, and often erodes supportive relationships. Unlike worry that can steer toward a solution, rumination tends to embody the very worst cognitive aspect of anxiety: feeling powerless and stuck.

More simply stated, worry can lead to solutions whereas rumination can lead to depression.

When worry next tempts you into overthinking and rumination territory, keep these four points in mind.

1. Focus on what’s in your control, not what isn’t.

A sense of control has long been associated with healthy coping and positive feelings, even in the face of adversity. And while circumstances can often feel fully outside our control, we know that we can always control our attitude, and even our feelings to some extent.Research shows that the simple act of naming your emotions can deliver a sense control. How we label them, and how we think about them, is one key way we can always exert control even in the most powerless of situations.

2. Find the silver lining, and keep your mind there.  

New research suggests optimism, and the capacity to see the silver lining in situations, may be the key to protecting against ruminations ill effects, and promoting resiliency. Focusing on how badly you feel, and why you deserve to feel this way, is the mental trap of rumination. Instead of focusing on fixed attributes of you or the situation, try instead to think about the opportunities for growth and change, and what you will learn that will help you, or someone else, in the future.

3. Focus on solutions.

When worry is focused on solutions, anxiety diminishes. Research at the University of California, Riverside, found that when worry is used to plan for contingencies, it helps people cope with anticipatory anxiety. If you can’t stop worrying about a situation, make sure you are keeping your thoughts geared towards solutions. This will keep your worry productive, and helpful.

4. Distract yourself if you are still feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

Whether it’s a funny video, taking a cognitive break, or simply focusing on the furniture or physical attributes of the environment around you, distraction has been shown to have an emotionally regulating effect in people who tend toward depression. The faster you regulate your emotional response, the faster your coping skills will come online.

To use anxiety as a productive tool, we have to make sure worry doesn’t tip into the sticky swirl of rumination. With the wrong attitude and outlook, anxious worry can quickly transform itself into more dangerous overthinking. A gateway to depression, rumination is anxiety run amok, where negative feelings drive a spiral of negative thinking that leads to increased distress, and a greater sense of hopelessness.

Optimism, on the other hand, is a powerful hedge against this negative spiral, and according to science, just might be the gateway to resilience.

 

For more help with managing stress and anxiety, check out my anxiety blog, download my free ebook, or sign up for my newsletter.

*Original Content and Images courtesy of Alicia Clark PsyD. Take a look at her super informative website! 

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August 16, 2018

Something in the Water: A Novel

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Get Your Copy Here!

 

Still Lives: A Novel

Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women―the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others―and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women.

As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances.

Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala.

Get Your Copy Here!

 

Ghosted: A Novel

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

Get Your Copy Here!

 

The Last Time I Lied: A Novel

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.

Get Your Copy Here!

 

The Last Thing I Told You: A Novel

From the acclaimed author of The Evening Spider and The Broken Teaglass comes this psychological thriller about the murder of a psychologist in a quiet New England town and his former patient whose unreliable thread will keep readers guessing until the shocking end.

I hear myself whispering. Not again. Not again.

Why did I ever come back here? Surely because of you. Because I thought of something I’d always meant to tell you. Because you were the only one I ever really wanted to tell it to…

Therapist Dr. Mark Fabian is dead—bludgeoned in his office.

But that doesn’t stop former patient Nadine Raines from talking to him—in her head. Why did she come back to her hometown after so many years away? Everyone here thinks she’s crazy. And she has to admit—they might have good reason to think so. She committed a shockingly violent act when she was sixteen, and has never really been able to explain that dark impulse—even to Fabian. Now that Fabian’s dead, why is she still trying?

Get Your Copy Here!

 

The Favorite Sister

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

Get Your Copy Here!

 

 

* Book summaries courtesy of Amazon.com. Featured Image The Book Myth, find her here for your next great read!

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August 13, 2018

I HOPE YOU DANCE – No, I really do. In a literal way, not so much in a “life goals” kind of way; although I am 100 percent behind that as well.

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend who I hadn’t seen for a few months (she left NYC for Atlanta shortly after her wedding, so we were having a bit of a catchup sesh) asked me how the different areas of my business were coming along and if I was up to anything new. I filled her in briefly on the new online business courses I was offering as well as the expansion of my speaking and writing engagement services and how I was fitting it all together. After a bit of a rundown on the ins and outs of these services, she said, “so, are you just loving it?”

Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I LOVED creating the courses, I LOVED interacting with other super awesome creative entrepreneurs, I LOVED telling my story and helping others become the best them that they can be. I was madly in love with every single aspect of providing these courses from start to finish, except for one small thing. I hate public speaking. And, as is frequently the case when it comes to things we fear, that one, small, scary aspect puts an enormous black cloud over the parts that I love. Isn’t that just the pits?

My friend’s response? Then why are you doing it?

If I am being real with you, this is always my favorite question when it comes to each aspect of my life, especially the ones that include facing my fears head on. Don’t other people do this on the daily? Is this not what it means to be a human? Doesn’t EVERYONE do the things they fear as long as it’s something they think is important to do? Unfortunately, the answer is no in some cases, and I think that has to change.

How do I do the things that absolutely scare me, but that I know are the things that are going to be best for me in the end? I dance it out. Before each and every public speaking engagement, class or workshop, or even just sharing my “close to the heart” creative work, I flip on the Britany or the Marvin Gaye or The Cure (usually The Cure) and I dance. There is no doubt in mind that I look silly, I am the product of a Father who has zero rhythm and fast dances at weddings by wiggling his heel around on the ground while he swings his hips in the opposite direction. There is no possible way that I look awesome when I am dancing, but I do it, because that is how I get out the negative, scary energy and relax my mind enough to push through the fear.

My suggestion isn’t necessarily that you dance it out if that isn’t your thing (or you are in the airport FREAKING OUT over flying); I am simply suggesting that when you are terrified of something that you want to do,  instead of walking away, try doing something that will change your energy and will make your impossible possible.  There is really nothing that feels better in life than doing something you didn’t think you could do. It resets  your power and teaches you that you are unstoppable.

Those are things everyone needs.

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July 30, 2018

Doesn’t it always seems that when one thing in your life goes wrong, every other part of your experience seems to follow closely behind? You know what they say, “when it rains, it pours.” I have recently begun to wonder if it is me causing the ball to continue rolling downhill or if it is a natural occurrence that happens in the universe (mercury in retrograde?). Honestly, I think it is me. Here is why: Mindset

Sure, my theory isn’t exactly scientific, however; I think there is something to be said for the energy that you put into the world, and I think that the mind is where that energy originates. Think about it this way: if you could magically adjust your mindset when things are on the downslide, would it make a difference to your lifestyle, business, or relationships? Is it possible that your positive vibes would stop that negativity in its tracks and set you on the path to happier days? I think so.

So, when times are tough and you can’t seem to find a light at the end of the tunnel, how can you make a mindset change that will keep you positive and moving forward?

  1. LISTEN TO YOURSELF – If you have had a series of negative experiences and you’re feeling defeated, listen to yourself and know when to rest. We aren’t big on quitting here at The Art Of, but we do adore a good R & R session now and then, and it seems especially needed when its “pouring.” Instead of flashing a fake smile and trying to push through the situation, give yourself a mental health day. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that you are experiencing, but decide that you are going to wash it away at the end of the day and start fresh. Trying to fight your sadness, anger, or negative feelings will only make it harder to set them aside.
  2. EXPRESS GRATITUDE – If you are feeling any level of gratitude you can’t possibly hang onto anger. By definition gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” There is nothing negative in having grace for what you already have in your life that makes you happy. If you are feeling gratitude, express it. Tell your husband why he is so incredibly important to you, call your sister and let her know that she has changed your life just by being born, send flowers, comment positively on a social media post, make a list of all of the things that made you smile today. I could go on and on, but the moral of the story is that if you focus on being thankful, it takes a bit of the sting out of the struggle.
  3. BE BRAVE – I have said this numerous times on this blog and elsewhere, and I still believe it wholeheartedly. One of the very best ways to get your mojo back is to do something that you didn’t think you could do. Go ahead, prove yourself wrong and get some of that power and control back in your life. It’s funny how much easier life feels as a whole when you know that you are capable of enormous courage.
  4. INDULGE IN A GUILTY PLEASURE – Mine is really terrible reality TV. When I am having a bad morning, nothing resets my mind like The Bachelor or Teen Mom (1 & 2). I am on the edge of my seat waiting for Bachelor in Paradise to start up in August. Whatever the small,  joy inducing pleasure, give yourself permission to indulge and enjoy it! You’ll feel immediately better, if only superficially, which isn’t a necessarily a negative thing if you are attempting to reverse a bad mood or attitude.
  5. MAKE A DECISION – Sometimes, the simple act of thinking through a problem and making a decision one way or another can alleviate a good amount of stress. Too often we agonize over decisions or “next steps” because we aren’t sure we are doing the right thing or making the right choice. But, if you make it a point to think through the situation as well as the  pro’s and con’s you can start making moves toward a resolution. There is freedom and strength in taking control of the situation and doing something to make it better. Just make the decision and start.

Gorgeous photography courtesy of Julia Trotti. Find her brilliant work here! 

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