How can you manage anxiety in early sobriety?
Many women who drink have underlying anxiety issues and are using alcohol to make those feelings go away. And it’s a tool that doesn’t help. In fact, consuming alcohol makes anxiety much worse.
Anxiety is the number one side effect from drinking. And after you quit drinking it’s important to add new tools to cope with underlying anxiety that you may have been self-medicating for with alcohol.
Jessica Foody and I are discussing anxiety and the tools to cope with anxiety that you can take away and implement in your life.
Jess is a registered nurse, a recovery coach, and a She Recovers signature coach. Her expertise is in working with women who struggle, both with addiction and with anxiety. She helps women not only drink less, but transform their relationship with anxiety.
Jess shares her favorite mindfulness techniques and how to unconditionally love and accept yourself, anxiety and all. She believes that recovery is the return to the joy of living.
In this episode, you’ll learn about a Buddhist mindfulness technique that can help you work with any difficult emotion for anxiety. This technique is called the RAIN technique. The rain technique can be used either in formal meditation practice or when a strong emotion is coming up.
RAIN stands for RECOGNIZE, ALLOW, INVESTIGATE and NURTURE.
RECOGNIZE – Recognize what you’re feeling. With anxiety, this can be something that you are very attuned to and are very good at recognizing it.
ALLOW – Allowing your anxiety to be here just as it is. The more you resist something, the more you’re trying to get rid of it, the more you’re trying to push it away, it actually gets stronger, it gets bigger. You can’t push away feelings, you can’t get rid of feelings outside of numbing. So when you allow your anxiety to be here, just as it is, it’s like you give your anxiety space to breathe.
INVESTIGATE – Investigate your body. Investigate with kindness. Get out of your head and get into your heart. Ask yourself, what’s happening with me right now, where am I feeling this anxiety? Is there a tightness in my chest? Is my back getting tense? Step out of the mind and actually be in your body and sometimes taking a few deep breaths can really help because something that makes anxiety worse is the more you think about your anxious thoughts the worse it gets.
NURTURE – You embrace yourself with love and compassion, and you provide that comfort to yourself. You’re allowing our anxiety to be here, but you need that comfort. Be kind to yourself, especially when you’re hurting.
If you’re looking for tools to help you cope with your anxiety, this episode is for you.
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ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Sober Girl’s Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
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Managing Anxiety In Sobriety With RAIN Mindfulness
drinking, quit, managing, anxiety, sobriety, RAIN Technique, mindfulness, anxiety, unconditional love, accept themselves, mindfulness techniques, recovery, joy, living, perfectionism, overachieve, hyper vigilant, relief, cope, social anxiety, listening, beliefs, fear, dread, now, future, panic, reactions, shame, fix, enables, stronger, courageous, connection, intention, Buddhist Mindfulness Technique, , recognize, allow, investigate, nurture, meditation, stop, pause, identity, self compassion, freedom, healing, self love, embrace, coping tools, empathy, hope, optimism, story, inspire, kindness, dharma, wisdom
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Jessica Foody
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
In this episode, we’re going to talk about anxiety and tools to cope with anxiety in early sobriety.
Often anxiety and drinking go hand in hand, either because most women, many women who drink, have underlying anxiety issues that they might be coping with, and they use drinking to make those feelings go away to turn off their mind to shut off their worries.
It’s also connected because drinking and recovering from drinking has a really clear link to making anxiety worse.
It’s one of the number one side effects from drinking. And so if you drink often, a lot of women have anxiety more deeply and more pronounced than they would then they would have otherwise.
So my guest today is Jessica Foody. She is a Registered Nurse, a Recovery Coach, A SHE RECOVERS® Signature Coach. Her expertise is in working with women who struggle, both with addiction, and with anxiety. She helps her clients not only drink less, but transform their relationship with anxiety and she does this through teaching mindfulness techniques and helping her clients learn to unconditionally love and accept themselves – anxiety and all.
She believes that recovery is the return to the joy of living. And Jess, I am so excited you’re here. Thank you for coming on.
Yeah, Casey, thank you so much for having me.
Yeah, and I was really interested in this topic. And I think it’s so important because I feel, like, anxiety, and sort of the feeling of being a perfectionist, the feeling of always trying to overachieve and be hyper vigilant, was a big reason that I drank. I felt a lot of anxiety and stress around performing in my job, and just trying to keep on top of everything in my life and drinking was a tool that helped turn it off. And then when I was drinking daily, my anxiety was actually the problem that finally pushed me to give up drinking because I felt like I couldn’t cope with my life. I knew drinking was contributing in a really negative way to my anxiety spiking. So I love that you’re here and I you know, I know from our earlier conversations, you have so much to share on how to help women stop feeling so anxious without opening the bottle of wine.
Yeah, you know your story Casey is just so similar. You know, I think that for so many women who struggle with anxiety, you know, alcohol or that nightly glass of wine. It, you know, it starts with just feeling that relief, you know, after a long day or trying to manage or, you know, our perfectionism coming up. And it starts from something that helps us initially right to something that ends up harming us in the long run, you know, the phrase that works until it doesn’t, right, that nightly glass of wine can be so calming. And then once we start drinking more and more, our anxiety actually starts to increase the more that we drink. So yeah, I think this is a great topic to bring to light because so many women turned to alcohol to cope with anxiety. Not really realizing that it might actually be making their anxiety worse.
And I know this is something that you struggled with as well. And you mentioned to me that when you first sort of came into recovery and started to question, you’re drinking and trying to drink less, it was actually because of anxiety and perfectionism as well. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah, so anxiety is something that I know very well. You know, it’s been my lifelong struggle, or it was. I no longer really struggle with that, that much anymore. But, you know, really, since I was a kid, I just suffered with, you know, crippling anxiety. And, you know, I was, you know, a 20 year old woman who had really, really bad anxiety and I suffered from really bad social anxiety. You know, I had trouble even leaving the house at times, my hands would start to shake. A really bad perfectionism most of my life was about trying to avoid anxiety, you know, staying away from situations that would provoke anxiety. And then also when I did feel anxious, finding ways to numb it, either through taking pills, or through drinking, and for a long time, you know, I really felt like alcohol was helping me like the idea of not drinking. You know, I, I just couldn’t imagine going through life going to parties, you know, being social. You know, how would I cope with my anxiety without alcohol? And, you know, since starting this journey, it’s something that I learned that anxiety gets better when you stop drinking. But if you had told 20 year old me that I wouldn’t have believed that because it’s all I knew it was my only coping tool really for anxiety.
Yeah, and I think that’s so common. I mean, I really felt like drinking was what enabled me to deal with the stress in my job and the anxiety around it and sort of the dread of seeing an email from my boss or, you know, going into meetings. And in reality, once I stopped drinking, I actually was able to realize that I’m, I’m pretty competent at my job, and I’m good at it. And I don’t need to second guess everything and if something goes wrong, I’m able to fix it. The one thing I wanted to put out there for anyone listening to this, and I’m pretty open about dealing with anxiety too, and tools to overcome it is that anxiety disorders and especially with women are really common. You are absolutely not alone in this. There is nothing wrong with you. Even though I know it feels like everyone else can deal with life without the anxiety that you feel.
About 40 million American adults deal with anxiety every year and women are twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. It is a combination. Have anxious thoughts or beliefs, physical symptoms, changes in behavior, including, as Jess said, avoiding everyday activities they are used to. And just mentioned this as well, the symptoms that have anxiety are not just in your head. It is a sense of fear and dread about things that may happen now or in the future. But it also includes physical symptoms of feeling weak and having shortness of breath, or rapid heart rate nausea, upset stomach, hot flashes, dizziness. So when I was having anxiety or sort of a panic episode, it really felt like it was impacting me physically, it felt like it was happening to me. And obviously there’s a lot of different levels of sort of reactions. Sometimes it’s just your racing brain, but sometimes it is physical. And so what I love about what Jess is going to do is take us through really specific ways to cope with that to manage it in your everyday life. And also to get out of those feelings and episodes and calm yourself in a way that’s not drinking. So this is absolutely not drinking. It is an amazing tool for coping with anxiety. Drinking does sort of pour gasoline on anxiety and make it a million times worse. But there are also a million other tools that you shouldn’t use. So it’s not a one, one fix for everything. So just do you want to just take us into your best tips?
Yeah, yeah, I’d love to share too because I know you’re kind of sharing some statistics about anxiety and also kind of a shame that comes with it. You know, before we jump into tips, I kind of want to talk about that because I think that as you know, Casey, like shame, is one of those things that really keeps us silently feeling bad about ourselves, feeling ashamed. And, you know, for so long, you know, with my story, I had anxiety, but when I would go and talk to a therapist or talk to somebody else about how I was managing it, I never met, I never shared that I was drinking. You know, I never shared the extent of it. I don’t even know if I shared the extent of my anxiety because I felt so ashamed, like something is really wrong with me. So, you know, if you’re listening to this, and, you know, you know that you are using alcohol in a way that just no longer feels healthy to you. You know that you are so loved and that, you know, your nightly drink. You know, it doesn’t mean that anything is seriously wrong with you, it might just mean that you’re struggling, and that you need some support and some help.
You know, I wish that somebody had just said that to me, because that feeling of oh my gosh, you know, I’m an alcoholic. Or, or if I bring this to light, what does this mean about me? So I kept just trying to drink and manage it to the best of my ability and it just kind of kept getting worse. So, before we go into tips, I just feel like that’s so important because we really can’t use these tips if they’re not coming from a place of self acceptance, self love, and really, you know, embracing all that we are and knowing that even if you struggle with anxiety are still so so loved.
Absolutely. And I think that’s one of the reasons that we feel so much anxiety is that we never felt that acceptance of every part of us. We get the messages that, you know, women need to be perfect and helpful and push down negative feelings because they’re unattractive. Or, or not accepted and it’s so important to realize that you’re not alone. That everyone has these feelings in some way or another. And that it’s actually the fact that you feel this way that enables you to be stronger and more courageous, and more honest and connect with people on a deeper level.
Yeah, totally. I mean, I, you know, I used to hate my anxiety and feel like something is wrong with me about it. But now I realized like, it has helped me so much it’s helped me grow compassion for myself, compassion for others. And you know, it can really just open your heart, you know, when you learn how to deal with your anxiety and accept yourself in it. So, yeah, we can jump into tips and tricks now. I just wanted to start with I love them.
Yeah, because, again, these tips and tricks aren’t here to fix us. I think that as women, it’s like we do have this conditioning of something’s wrong with me. I need to fix it, I need to get rid of this anxiety. But these are more, okay? Anxiety is just something that I deal with. Nothing’s really wrong with me. And these are some ways that I can manage my anxiety to the best of my ability. It’s more about accepting and loving ourselves and trying to fix ourselves.
Absolutely. And in anything that you have, there is sort of the side that you want it to go away and there’s a hidden strength in it, right? There’s a reason that you feel it and it’s in some way attempting to protect you. So if you can harness that with love. It’s going to be so much better for your life.
Right, I think knowing what our intention is, before we start this work is so important. All right, so now I’m going to share a technique that has been so helpful to me. It’s actually a Buddhist Mindfulness Technique that can help you work with any difficult emotion for anxiety. I found it to be particularly helpful. And it is the RAIN Technique. Rain stands for recognize, allow, investigate and nurture. If you are a nerd like myself, I recommend pausing the podcast and writing this down because it can be a little bit. It’s different. It’s a decent amount of information to take in, but it is so… it’s so worth it once you can kind of understand what this says.
If you’re listening to this episode and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit. The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study, sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step-by-step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one-on-one coaching. And The Sobriety Starter Kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it, when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time. This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step-by-step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life. You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better, you’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course.
So it’s a technique that you can use either in formal meditation practice, like when you’re actually sitting down and meditating. Or it’s just something that you can go to when you have a mindful moment when a strong emotion is coming up. And you stop and you pause and you check in with yourself about what’s coming up. So if you don’t have a formal meditation practice, which I think a lot of people actually feel shame about that, too. Of, like, I don’t meditate regularly, not a big deal. You don’t have to meditate regularly to do this. This is something that anybody can do if you’re just willing to stop and pause and slow down and be with what’s coming up.
So the R stands for recognized. Recognized means that we recognize what we’re feeling. And with anxiety that can be something that maybe, maybe you are very attuned to your anxiety and are very good at recognizing it. But some feelings were not so good at recognizing, you know? So again, this is a technique that we can use for really any feeling that we want to bring up to the surface. And we really just want to make space for it and allow it to be here. The more that we resist feeling our feelings, the stronger that they get, but when we can actually just say, okay, there’s some anxiety here. It’s almost like, it just brings it to light. It’s not so scary. It’s not like we’re trying to hide it in the closet and pretend like it’s not there. It’s like we are willing to recognize what’s here. And instead of saying, I am anxious, which I’ve heard from myself, clients, and so many women, I’d really recommend saying, I am feeling anxious. Or even better, there’s some anxiety here, because you are not your feelings. And I think that is something that can be really helpful. When we work with feelings is to know that we are not our anxiety, we are not any one feeling. So the more distance we can get between, this is me, and this is just the feeling that’s here, the better off we’re going to be. So again, recognize what you’re feeling. I am feeling anxious, again. We’re bringing it to the light and we’re allowing it just to be here.
Yeah, I mean, I love that as well. And it’s something that I say often, both to myself and to my clients, that the same feelings are not facts. And when you know when a client’s like, Oh, I really want to drink right now I’m like, Okay, why do you want to drink water? What emotion are you feeling beneath that? And it’s usually anxiety, worry, overwhelm, resentment, boredom, and the more that we can say, Okay, you want to drink. But why? What are you feeling?
Okay, I want to drink because I’m feeling anxious.
What else can you do to deal with anxiety? or Why are you feeling anxious?
And I also love what you said about separating yourself from your emotions. And, you know, so often we think we have a feeling and there is a knee jerk reaction to say, I’m angry. And the truth is, you’re feeling anger, and there’s a reason you’re feeling anger. So when you say like, I’m feeling anxious, as opposed to I’m an anxious person, or there’s some anxiety here. I love that because it’s the same as saying, you get a little bit more distance from your feelings and also more curiosity to deal with it. Right? And so that helps so much.
Yeah, totally. I think for so many of us, you know, at least I know with my story, it was like, Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m anxious. It was like my identity. And because it was my identity, I didn’t realize that I could choose how I wanted to respond to that anxiety. When we become our feelings. We don’t really give ourselves a lot of space to respond from a place of compassion and a place of wisdom, or more so reacting to the feeling and then choosing our response. So the more space we have between this is, this is me, and this is what I’m feeling that also gives us that space to choose. Okay, how do I want to respond to the feeling that I’m feeling as opposed to I’m feeling anxious? I’m just going to react by you know, picking up a drink.
So yeah, we’re blaming myself, you know, compounding that anxiety. Thinking, this is what I used to do, what is wrong with me? Why can’t I cope with my life? Why can’t I deal with this in the way everybody else seems to around me? Which was so unfair. I mean, there was a reason I was feeling anxiety. And if I had instead of turn that blame on myself and thinking that I’m so weak, I could have been like, Well, of course, I’m feeling anxiety for people who have left my work team. My boss is not giving me the support I need. I’m worried because I have time crunches at home. And my daughter really needs me and my husband feels like I haven’t been engaged. I mean, all your feelings are legitimate. It’s not something that is wrong with you and you need solutions, right? You need to identify it and have compassion and love for yourself and be like, okay, some of these feelings are.. are they’re being caused by something, even if it’s childhood trauma, or even if it’s, you know, sort of a reaction to something that happened to you earlier that’s coming out in an outsized way now. So I love that self compassion and also recognizing it and getting, you know, everything that you’re that you’re saying.
Yeah, and thank you, Casey for bringing that up. That’s such an important piece, you know, we’re not going to be able to mindfully and compassionately respond to our feelings, if we feel shame about having them, right? So at the etymology of the word shame needs to cover or to hide, so for feeling a sense of shame around our anxiety, we’re just going to want to cover it, we’re going to want to hide it. And we can’t actually heal if we’re not willing to feel cheesy, but true. So we have to just give ourselves the freedom to say okay, I’m just feeling this. And I’m allowed to feel this. Nothing is wrong with me. And I still say that to myself, because my past conditioning was always… I am feeling anxious, and therefore something’s wrong with me. And now it’s like, I’m feeling anxious. And honestly, I’m just wired, a little bit anxious and that’s okay. You know, sometimes anxiety truly is situational. But some of us, you know, if that’s all you’ve experienced, or that’s what you’ve experienced a lot of, even from a kid, you know, we’re just wired differently, you know, and that’s totally fine. You know, that doesn’t mean anything’s actually wrong with you. So, yeah, I think that’s really, really just healing and so important to remember.
All right, that’s awesome. So what’s next?
Yeah, okay, so get your pen and paper if you’re taking notes like a good student. So the A stands for “Allow it”. So we kind of mentioned this before, but a lot of times what we do when we have anxiety is maybe you’re aware, you’re like, I’ve got the raccoon eyes. I can tell what I’m anxious about. I know that very well. Okay, I’m recognizing that I’m anxious now. How do I get rid of it? Used to be my story. I was good at recognizing, but not so good at “allowing”. So allowing me and just allowing our anxiety to be here just as it is. So again, the more that we are resisting something, the more that we’re trying to get rid of it, the more that we’re trying to push it away, the actual it actually gets stronger, it gets bigger, we can’t push away feelings, we can’t get rid of feelings outside of numbing. So when we just allow our anxiety to be here, just as it is, it’s like we give our anxieties space to breathe. We are willing to befriend our anxiety and just let it show up. Let it be a part of our experience without making it bad, without trying to get rid of it. Just getting to know it, being curious about it and just allowing it to be here for as long as it wants to be.
Yeah, yeah, you know, when I got so good I was really into stepping out of my comfort zone, still am. But it was like this goal of mine that I just wanted to do all these new things. So I got real good at recognizing anxiety and also allowing it to be here. You know that allowing can be, you know, you know, this sounds cheesy, but you know, hello old friend that, like, I see you, welcome. You know? Because anxiety. If you’ve had it for a long time. Honestly, it is an old friend, you know, it’s something that you might know very well you know, your heart might start racing might start having those thoughts and it’s so much of this work you know, and working with feelings is how are we how are we responding to that, you know, things anxiety shows up and I start freaking out. Oh, God, I mean, shut up. You know, I need to get rid of this. This isn’t good. What does this say about me? That’s gonna really make my anxiety worse. But if we have this, you know, willingness, just to greet it, like it’s an old friend. Hello, I see you, welcome. You know, stay as long as you want. It sounds cheesy, but it really, really does work because it’s like, we’re no longer afraid of our anxiety. You know, so much of my experience was being afraid of when anxiety would show up. Right? So I was living in fear of my anxiety, and this is really befriending our anxiety. You can even name it if you want, you know, it’s really just having a transformed relationship with anxiety.
And I had that too, meaning that I was afraid of when it would show up for me. And, you know, it has come back at various periods of my life. I mean, my dad died, my grandfather died, usually work related, like where people would leave my work team and I was afraid of carrying it all on my own. But it also seemed somewhat episodic and it wasn’t until I quit drinking that I was able to recognize that. The patterns of it and separate it from self blame, right? When the anxiety would peak, I, and I was drinking, you know, so much of that was self blaming myself. Because I felt like, you know, the daily hangovers and the feeling like crap and not being able to keep up at work. I mean, that was my fault, and therefore, I had anxiety. So once you get some distance from that, you’re able to say, Okay, this is… this is happening. This isn’t my fault. I can deal with this.
And there’s much more self love involved in that and also ability to separate drinking withdrawal from anxiety specifically, one thing you mentioned that I wanted to sort of dig a little deeper into, is you mentioned sort of how anxiety would show up for you. So both when and how, and I’d love to hear more about that.
You talked about your Heart racing. And you also talked about social anxiety and avoiding situations. But tell me a little bit more about that. Because everyone’s triggered in different ways. What’s easy for one person is extremely difficult for something else, someone else and how we feel it differs as well.
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s so important to talk about, right? Because my anxiety might show up differently than yours. And that’s okay. You know, it’s really interesting because I thought my anxiety was just more global. It is true like I do, I did worry, you know, a decent amount. But it was actually once I got sober, I realized how much it was really more social anxiety. So social anxiety is, you know, if you’re thinking maybe that’s me. Social anxiety is really this fear of being judged by other people. So anytime I had to do something where I was fighting, where I was, you know, vulnerable, where I was opening myself up to judgment or people might perceive me a certain way. I noticed my heart would start to race and I got really nervous. You know, I’d have a lot of just like fear based thoughts in my head, but the racing heart was, you know, really key for me. You know, lots of just, you know, my mind would just start to get really loud and, you know, if you struggle with social anxiety, you already know this, but it can be so so painful because you want to connect with other people. You want to share who you are, you want to be vulnerable, but it’s almost this feeling of I’m so self conscious and I’m so in my head and I am so you know, just feeling like out of it, you know, how can I possibly connect with somebody else? So it was a very lonely existence for me because you know, is very, very hard for me to be insulted. situations, you know, I was never really vulnerable with people. I never really shared anything about myself. I never did anything that required me to be front center. I mean, I had a hard time. This is like, funny, I had a hard time even going to a book club and introducing myself. I had a hard time going to the gym. Because I thought people were looking at me and judging me.
It’s pretty incredible that you’re a Coach now and coming on a podcast to talk about I mean, that is incredible growth. I mean, and a testament if you had trouble introducing yourself at a book club, and now you’re here on a podcast that we have heard by many women.
Yeah, you know, it’s so funny too, because like, you know, I’m really happy that you said that Casey, thanks for “I toot my own horn here”. But I just thought that, that would be my existence for the rest of my life, that I would feel completely uncomfortable in my own skin. Like that’s just who I thought I was. That’s all I knew. Yeah. And now it’s so funny because I feel so at ease with most people, and it’s just really incredible when we stop, you know, numbing, and we start to work through what’s actually here. You know, it really didn’t take that long. You know, it didn’t take that long because I learned how to be with myself and love myself. And when you do those things, and you embrace, you know, true coping tools, you can heal and you can get better and yeah, my life just feels so free today, in a way that I never would have imagined. And now I can go to the gym, so not that I always do so. But I could.
Yeah. And one thing I think is super interesting, or I’m very impressed with what you’ve done is you actually entered recovery and stopped drinking at a much younger age than I did, you were 29. And so the first time that I tried to quit drinking I was 37 and I finally quit for good at age 40. So, you know, I always occasionally, you know, when I go to therapy, I see these teenagers in the waiting room and I’m like, Oh my God, if I had figured some of this out at the age of 17, my, you know, all the pain I would have spared myself, at the same time in self love, it brought me to who I am, it brought me to where I am now and the empathy and, and connection I have with other people because we have that shared struggle. But what led you so early to both do that self work as opposed to numbing and pushing it down? And also decide that drinking wasn’t working for you? Because if I could, if I could have saved myself 11 years of that cycle to feel where I am now. That would have been amazing.
Yeah, I don’t know why. But when you said that, I just got chills. I think maybe I’m just thinking about what a gift it was that I did get this at a relatively young age. You know, what made me, at 29 and want to stop drinking? You know, I think I just realized that it wasn’t working anymore. And it was really apparent to me that it wasn’t working. You know, it wasn’t subtle, you know, there would be nice when I was blacked out, there would be, you know, I just felt so much shame and guilt around my drinking. You know, I already had social anxiety. So I was very closeted from other people, but then I felt just so disconnected and so lonely from other people. You know, so it was just this feeling of like, a lot of shame, a lot of guilt and also realizing that my anxiety was getting worse. And that took me a while to realize that drinking wasn’t working. It wasn’t helping, you know, maybe that first glass. You know, help to calm my nerves. But the next day, man, you know, my anxiety was just like on a scale of 15. You know, I remember, you know, after, you know, a night of drinking, you know, my, I just woke up and my hands would literally be shaking. And, you know, some of it might have been withdrawal. But it was just this feeling of just like, overwhelming dread and self hatred and feeling like, I can’t go on like this, you know? I have to find a way to work through this anxiety and to learn to be with myself without self destructing.
And also, on the flip side of that, a very honest response to, is, I really wanted a relationship and I knew that I would not be able to be a partner to somebody if I kept going down this path. How could I possibly share who I am in my heart and be in a committed relationship with somebody and be a good partner if I was drinking like this? You know, if you are questioning your relationship with alcohol, I think it’s good to ask, you know, how is this affecting yourself? And also, you know, think about what you want for yourself? You know, if you keep drinking, you know, maybe it’s not a relationship, but maybe it’s something else that you want for yourself. Maybe it’s to be a good mom, maybe it’s to, you know, start your own business. Who knows what it is? I mean, we all have dreams, and they’re all equally valid. But how is your drinking? is it helping or hindering? You know, if you keep drinking, do you think that you’re going to get there?
Yeah, I mean, I think that not drinking is the foundation of everything I want in life because it was keeping me so stuck and because it impacts your mind and your emotions and your optimism and your relationships. So that first step, by definition changes everything else in your life, your your, how you show up at work, how you show up with friends, how you are honest with your husband. Once you know how you deal with your children’s relationships, openness, and it’s not easy. But what drinking did for me was, keep me sort of at a very surface level, not only on the groundhog day, but sort of punishing myself physically and mentally, but also not dealing with all that stuff underneath. And once I sort of walked away from the wine bottle, I was able for the first time to peel back the layers and deal with that underlying stuff. And, and kind of put it behind me. I mean, I love that you say that you’re no longer anxious or you…you don’t experience any sort of anxiety as much. And that’s, I know, for anyone experiencing it at a deep level or at a somewhat surface level, but it comes up and holds them back. I mean, that is hope and optimism and it’s real.
Yeah, definitely. It’s so funny that you’re saying this. I remember listening to a podcast. It was right when I got sober actually. And it was a woman who maybe had like, six years of sobriety, and she was sharing her story of how she overcame anxiety. And, you know, once she had stopped drinking and the life that she had created for herself and the woman that she had become, and it was like, the first time that I was like, wow, I want that for myself. I mean, I had already stopped drinking, but it was very clear, I don’t know, like, I.. I, too, want that. I want her story. And, you know, if you’re listening to this, like, you know, this could be your story. You know, if you’re no longer living a life limited by anxiety and using alcohol to cope, you know, what could your story be? You know, maybe you could inspire somebody else. So it’s really cool that I’m doing this podcast because she was my inspiration. Who knows? Maybe somebody will listen to this. They’ll share a podcast today about their story and overcoming anxiety and addiction. So I don’t know yet. Cool thing to think about, you know?
Well, so we’ve talked about recognize. We’ve talked about acknowledging and sort of welcoming your anxiety or saying hello, old friend. What’s next?
Yeah, so all right, yep. So we’ll get back to the topic. We want to recognize, right? Recognizing anxiety we allow it to be here again, we’re not trying to get rid of it. And then the “I” stands for investigate. So investigate with kindness. So what that means is, so many of us, myself included at times, we’re just floating heads, you know, we want to think about our feelings, but we don’t want to feel them. And investigate means really investigate in the body. So it’s really dropping out of our heads and into our hearts and asking, okay, what’s happening with me right now, you know, where am I feeling this anxiety? You know, is that my heartbeat Saying is as it feels like a tightness in my chest, you know, as my back getting tense, it’s really again trying to kind of step out of the mind and actually be in our body and sometimes taking a few deep breaths can really help because something that makes anxiety worse is the more that we think about our anxious thoughts. The, you know, the more that our heart starts to race, you know, the more that we start to sweat, we get anxious. Anxiety lives in our mind. So if we can drop into the body, you know, investigate, okay, what is going on with me right now? Where am I feeling best? Again, this is with a kind of attention. It’s not what’s going on with me. You know, what’s wrong with me? It’s more of a, okay, where am I feeling this? It’s really getting to know your anxiety and being curious about it, and actually being with it in the body. You know, I remember when I first learned that those feelings are meant to be. And that actually means that we need to feel them and that you could feel feelings in the body. That was like a foreign concept to me, all I had done was like, think about feelings. So, again, this stuff is really trying to go from the anxious thoughts to, you know, sometimes even putting my hand on my heart. And I just, you know, close my eyes and I get curious, okay, where am I feeling this, what is this feeling like? You know, I can be with it at this moment.
So, question for you. I mean, I love that but in a situation so for example, I’m just picking this out like I’m at a work networking event. I’m not drinking, I’m there by myself. And someone comes up to talk to me about, you know, I was in digital marketing about e-commerce and suddenly, all of my anxious thoughts kind of come up right that I’m going to say something wrong. They’re gonna, you know, ask me a particular question or you’re in a job interview or you’re in a big meeting presenting to someone really high up in a company who’s known to grill you. So your anxiety comes up. What do you do in that moment? I mean, recognize, allow, investigate. That’s tough.
Yeah, you know, I think that’s a really great question. Because right, like if we have all the time in the world, and we can, you know, maybe go and sit down and really be with it. We can do these steps. But in the moment when anxiety shows up, right, anxiety isn’t always the most, you know, the most? What’s the word I’m looking for? You know, it shows up when it wants to show up, right? Yeah, it doesn’t pick the best time when you’re like in the morning. In bed. Like, let me say hello, old friend, right? Your mind stops, starts racing, you start tingling, you start. Your heart is racing, you feel like you. You sort of are having an outer body experience, whatever it is for you. And you can’t be like, hold on. Let me, let me go nurture myself and come back to this conversation.
Yeah, so what I would say with that, and that’s actually been more of my experience. I mean, I practice these skills, so that when I’m in one of those situations, you know, I can just, you know, if I’m talking to somebody, and I’m realizing I’m getting anxious, I can notice that I don’t freak out about it. And something that I do because I’ve done a decent amount of public speaking, which again, would have been like my worst nightmare. So before I’m going to go and do public speaking, you know, my heart still races and that’s okay. You know, do I do the whole RAIN Technique? No, but what I do, and this is something that you can try is I just will rub my arm kind of like a parent would something really gentle, really loving, or you squeeze my leg, you know, just in a very like, loving kind of like you. No, it’s like, like a crass, you know, like a gentle, loving love that is almost like what you would want a friend to do. Like, in that moment.
It’s almost like a mini RAIN Technique. Like I’m recognizing that I’m anxious. That’s why I’m doing it. I’m allowing it to be here. I’m investigating it a little bit, right? Okay, it’s here. It’s in my body. And I’m giving myself that loving, gentle caress, you know, and you can do that, like, if you’re in a social setting, and you just notice that you’re getting anxious instead of saying, oh, gosh, this is awful. I gotta get rid of it. It’s like I can be with it. You know, giving yourself grace or even just going to the bathroom. Sometimes if I’m really anxious, you know, maybe it’s a party, maybe it’s, you know, you’re gonna do something way outside of your comfort zone. You know, and just going to the bathroom, putting your hand on your heart and taking a few deep breaths and saying, I love you, babe. You know, I know you’re anxious, but you’re going to be okay.
And I also like that you said that you practice these all the time and that whole record and investigate doing that work now helps you when you get into that situation and you can’t anticipate I mean, if I was flying to New York for a big presentation at at my former corporate job, that’s something that’s going to trigger my anxiety so doing you know, sort of the preemptive work of saying Okay, I’m gonna I recognize that this is something that will trigger my anxiety. I am you know, I am allowing it to be. I know that this is something that’s going to happen for me. I’m going to investigate why it’s happening and sort of, you know, you’re going to get to the end but nurture it, that can be done in advance if your public speaking if you’re going into a big presentation if you’re going into a social event with the PTA moms that tend to set you off a little bit or or a difficult personality. So getting into the practice of this beforehand can help a lot as well as I know you’re going to talk about other techniques. But I actually really love this sort of, you’re sitting in a meeting and you can rub your leg, under, under the desk or you can rub your arm like there are subtle ways that you can, you know, there’s moments before you speak after you speak, all of those things.
And one of the things I love and it’s also about sort of getting through difficult emotions and situations without drinking is, is sort of noticing how long did it last and realizing that you can get through it right. A lot of us never allow ourselves to get to the other side because we feel something coming on and boom, we want it to go away and we adopt whatever coping technique it is. And we don’t allow ourselves to see that. Okay, I got to the other side, and that lasted 20 minutes and it felt like x and the next time you won’t be so terrible. I’d have it.
Yeah, totally right. Each time you do this, you’re gaining confidence. You know, confidence really means self trust, you know that you can trust yourself. That when you’re feeling anxious, okay, well, I did that rain technique and, and it worked or I can be with it, I don’t have to check out. You know, and another thing too. I know I use public speaking. I bet a lot of people don’t do public speaking. But um, you know, if you’re just maybe you’re going on a date, or you’re just in the grocery store, and you’re just overwhelmed with anxiety in that moment. You know, you can always just take some slow, deep breaths. You know what happens when we’re anxious and sometimes we forget to breathe, our breaths become really shallow. And if you just take some mindful breaths, and again, you could even do this if you’re at a meeting, you know, in a work setting. Just really try to intentionally slow down your breathing. Try to breathe with your belly. So that those breaths get in there and they get really deep and you can trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, which is actually the nervous system that will calm us down. Because what happens when we’re stressed is all of those stress hormones, those, you know catecholamines start going and our cortisol starts rising.
And the goal of this is to really get back to a place where we can intentionally with those mindful so deep breaths, okay, I’m safe, you know, we can actually call our bodies down because that fight or flight response, you know, that can be really really scary. It can be really overwhelming. You know, I still experience that to some degree anytime I do public speaking. But that’s okay. You know, I can also take some deep breaths. So if you’re somebody who experiences anxiety, more like that, like really intense, almost like panic attack type symptoms, you know, taking those you know, deep breaths getting centered. Grounding techniques can be really powerful. Fall, okay, my feet are on the ground. What am I feeling? What am I seeing? What am I sensing? Really trying to get back to the present moment can be so helpful.
I love that you say that. And do you repeat a mantra? Like you said, I am safe? Is there…You know, should people kind of choose one?
Yeah, that’s a really great question. Um, you know, when I first started this journey, I’d always say I am present, I am centered, I’m loved. And I’m enough. You know, and I must decide that like, 20 times a day. But yeah, I think that you know, a calming mantra is great, because it’s almost like, what would you want a friend to say in that moment? When your heart is racing and you’re anxious or you’re just so overcome with anxiety? You know, you’re safe babe. I love you. Know nothing’s wrong with you. You know, I am safe. I am loved. Nothing is wrong with me. I can be with this feeling. No, I think that’s a really great thing to develop. And I would say, work on that mantra, practice it and get to know it well. So in those situations when your anxiety just comes out of nowhere, you know, it’s kind of like this rehearsed thing that you can go into. Maybe you don’t say it out loud. But you know, you can just kind of think about it in your head, okay, I’m safe. I am safe in this moment. You know, whatever it is that you can go to that makes you feel safe and loved in that moment.
And I realized, as we’re having this conversation, I tend to have a lot of energy and talk fast and even as you’re reminding us to breathe, I’ve been sort of breathing as you’re talking and just doing that “I am safe” and breathing through my belly and I feel so much calmer and more grounded than I did in the beginning of this interview. So that’s kind of amazing.
Yeah, you know, it was the book that I read. That said, if you want to work through social anxiety, practice belly breathing practice. And then, before you go into a social situation, you will know how to breathe with your belly, you’ll know how to take those deeper breaths. It’s not something that a lot of us know how to do. So yeah, all of this can be learned, you know, and it’s just really incredible.
Alright, so we’ll get to the nurture,right? We already kind of talked about pets.
Okay. Yeah, nurture. So, again, we want to recognize our anxiety. You know, okay, there’s some anxiety here. We allow it to be here. We investigate in the body. Maybe we put our hand on our heart. We take those mindful breaths we notice in the body, right, again, the investigation is going into the body. We notice you know, okay, what’s coming up? Where am I feeling this? The nurture is really my favorite piece because if you just okay, we’re allowing our anxiety to be here, but we need that comfort. You know, if you are in recovery, we reach for that glass. have wine or that pill or whatever it is not because we’re bad people, not because we’re weak willed. We just wanted to comfort, you know, and the beautiful thing about nurturing. So nurturing means that we embrace ourselves with love and compassion, and we provide that comfort to ourselves. I heard a really good quote by Tara Brach, and I think she said, it’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the nurtured. And most of us don’t know how to nurture ourselves. You know, we know how to beat ourselves up. We know how to hate ourselves, to say really nasty things to ourselves. But we don’t know how to be kind to ourselves, especially when we’re hurting. You know?
You know, clearly I’ve embraced my anxiety, but anxiety is a painful experience. You know, most of us aren’t Oh, yes, anxiety is here. Great. I could practice RAIN. You know, it’s a painful experience, you know.
I mean, that is.. it’s very hard. Yeah, it’s hard to experience. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. I mean, it is painful. And people who don’t experience that. They don’t really understand that. I mean, I know my husband, when I was feeling this way, he would come up to the bedroom when I’d kind of be lying in the dark. And honestly, I do not feel this anymore. And I am so grateful because it was a painful experience when it did happen. But he’d be like, what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you and he’s a great guy, but he was just like, why can’t you just deal with this? Why don’t you just not think about work? Why are you allowing it to impact you outside of work hours? And then he would try to solve my problem? Like, why don’t you just say this? Why don’t you just say that? Why don’t you write your boss and say, this is you know, for people who left the team. I can’t, you know, this is unfair. We need to hire someone else, you know, and I just was like, it was making it worse because I felt like he was judging me for being weak. I mean, just the cycle for not being able to cope with it, you know, and it was physical and it was painful and he was trying to problem solve, which by the way, women do not like when men try to solve their problems for them. They just want to be ignored, like badgered by someone else. Right?
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I mean, I think that so much when I would feel anxiety, it would be, you know, I judged myself for it. I kind of hate myself for it. Something’s wrong with me. This is like the exact opposite. It’s, you know, it’s realizing that anxieties here, it’s allowed to be here, and I’m gonna love myself in this moment. So nurturing is really about embracing self compassion, self kindness. If you are interested in this topic, or really quieting that inner critic, I recommend checking out a book by Kristin Neff. I think it’s called self compassion. She’s done a lot of research on this and has a lot of skills about how we can really give ourselves that same care and compassion that we would give a friend. You know, so with this last step of nurture again, it can be those, you know, I love you, you’re okay. You know, if I have the time, sometimes I actually write out a letter to myself from imagining my most loving, compassionate, wise self, like, what would she say to me in this moment when I’m really hurting or I’m really struggling with anxiety? Now, what would she say to me? And I found that to be so helpful. nurturing can be asking, okay, what do I really need in this moment? And I love teaching clients that because maybe you’re good at identifying your feelings, but you’re not good at saying okay, what do I really need? And that really means you know, what’s going to help me to feel better and to not have a consequence right? Eating five cookies might help you feel better. But it’s going to have a consequence. You know, you’re probably not going to feel so good about it afterwards or, you know, zoning out with Netflix. So it’s asking what do I really need in this moment? And a lot of times, that’s teaching ourselves kind of how to parent ourselves, you know, just as if you had, you know, a five year old daughter who was crying and you said, okay, sweetie, what do you need? You know, what do you need, you know, giving her that same love and care, you know, maybe it’s a phone call with a friend. You know, maybe it’s a walk in nature. Maybe it’s, you know, just doing something compassionate for yourself. Maybe it’s allowing yourself to do less. You know, okay, I’m just done for the day, and that’s okay, too.
Yeah, I love that. That’s awesome. Jess, this is so helpful. I’m wondering, you know, clearly you have a lot of information and expertise about using mindfulness to deal with anxiety. Where did you learn all of this?
Yeah, that’s a great question.
You know, I learned a lot of this from Tara Brach. She is a Psychologist and a Buddhist teacher, Buddhist meditation teacher and her teachings have just spoke to me, so, so much. You know, she is an author. So if you’re curious about this, I really, really recommend checking out her books. She writes a book called Radical Acceptance, which is really about, kind of, that feeling of like, being unworthy and how to learn how to love and accept yourself fully. And that includes your emotions, like anxiety. She just has had another book that came out recently about compassion, learning how to embrace ourselves with compassion. I forget the exact title. But it’s something about compassion. I think it’s radical compassion, actually.
We can link to all of these in the show notes of this episode as well. So if you’re listening… Yeah, just scroll down, I’ll have all the links that we talked about.
And also she offers a free podcast on iTunes. And it’s all of her Dharma talks. So if you’re like, wow, this is really interesting. I’ve never heard anyone talk about emotions like this. Her podcasts are truly so healing, because she’s just got this quiet, calm, loving voice. You know, and there’s just so much wisdom in them that you can apply to your life and really how to work with those challenging feelings that most of us, you know, have spent a lifetime running from. So yeah, she’s a truly amazing, amazing teacher and I’m so lucky to have found her work. I really recommend checking her out.
Yeah. So, yeah, you just never know, like, what’s going to speak to you and what’s also what’s going to work for you too.
So great. And I know that you work with clients, specifically on anxiety and mindfulness techniques, not just on stopping drinking, but on dealing with that anxiety. What types of work do you do? And how can people get in touch with you if they’re looking to learn more and interested in following up with you?
Yeah, thank you, Casey. Yeah, you know, there’s just so many women who fall into this kind of gray area where it’s like, you know, you’re struggling with anxiety, alcohol. Might be helping, might be hindering and I think having support around that. And open conversation to you know, so there isn’t any shame. You know, it’s somebody who’s been where you’ve been, somebody who can help you get through that. So, what I offer for clients is private coaching. So it’s all telephonic. And what I’m offering actually, that’s coming up really soon that I’m excited about is it’s going to be a 6 Week Course called Breaking Free From Anxiety.
So if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re like, wow, this really sounds like me. No, I really encourage you to check it out. So what the course is going to be as it’s for women who really want to live better, more full, rich, you know, meaningful lives, that isn’t really impacted by their anxiety or by their drinking, you know, it’s really a way to break free. So you don’t have to be alcohol free to partake in the program, or to partake in the course, the course is not a program. Because the truth is, I started exploring ways to work with my anxiety before I stopped drinking. So again, if you’re just curious about some holistic means to work through your anxiety, I really recommend signing up for the course. It’s going to be 6 weeks.
You know, this is perfect for women who are struggling with, you know, anxiety, maybe questioning their relationship around alcohol. Maybe you notice that you’re feeling some sense of shame or guilt around your drinking, or that it’s really crossing a line that no longer feels healthy to you. You know, in the course, you know, the purpose is to really gain clarity about your relationship with alcohol, know whether or not it is really helping or hindering you and the life that you want to be leading. Also, in the course, you’re going to learn coping tools to effectively manage anxiety, so you no longer feel like you have to check out when feeling anxious, you’re going to learn a lot about mindfulness techniques, self compassion, and really just the freedom that comes from healing from shame. You know, I think there’s so much shame when we talk about anxiety. In the course you’re going to learn about how it really can just feel so amazing when you learn to unconditionally love and accept yourself anxiety and all and you know, gain that self trust and confidence that you no longer have to turn to numbing agents to cope with life, you know, and that’s really the best gift of recovery is knowing that you are strong enough to handle it all.
So if that sounds like you, if you’re curious, if you want more information, please check out my website. I also have a list of other free resources. It’s a list of other holistic means that you can use to manage your anxiety. Rain technique is super helpful. But it is not the only thing that you know I use to manage my anxiety. So there’s going to be a free resource. It’s 10 holistic coping tools to work with anxiety so that you can experience the peace and freedom of not feeling trapped by your anxiety and also knowing that you don’t need alcohol to cope.
That’s great. And we will absolutely link to that in the show notes. But tell us what your website is for people listening who want to check it out right now.
yeah awesome so my website is jessicafoody.com. I know I’m not even a real foodie, if you knew me. But yeah jessicafoody.com, it’s memorable, I guess. And I really just encourage you to reach out. I know how scary it can be, especially when you are in this gray zone. I think almost being in this gray zone is harder to ask for help. Because it’s like, is this really a problem? Or is this not? You know, my feeling is if you’re, if it’s on your mind, it’s worth talking about, you know, you don’t have to, you don’t have to keep thinking about this. You know, the one thing that I wish somebody had asked me is, do you think that your life might be better if you just stopped drinking for a little bit, you know, because I was so focused on how much I needed it that it was like I didn’t open myself up. To the possibility that maybe my life could be better if I just learned to cut back or I learned to stop altogether. So I really have read if you’re curious just to reach out, again, I never pressure anyone to stop drinking. It took me a very long time to get to a place where that felt aligned for me. But I think even working on coping tools for anxiety, whether or not you want to stop drinking can be of so much value.
Absolutely, absolutely. I think that’s a perfect place to end this. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I know that just in our conversation, I feel so much calmer. I really do, which is amazing. So I want to encourage everyone to check out Jessica’s site Jessica foodie calm and the 10 tools as well as her course if you’re interested. And I in the show notes will give a great summary of the rain technique. You’ve talked about and the other tools that you’ve mentioned. So you can find that at hellosomedaycoaching.com/podcast. And in those notes or scrolling down where you’re listening to this, you’ll be able to find a written description of these techniques. So Jessica, thank you.
Yeah, thank you, Casey so much for having me. This is honestly my favorite topic to talk about because you know, we can get peace and freedom from this. It doesn’t have to be your story if you don’t want it to be. And I’m excited. I’m excited for the women who are listening to this. So thanks for having me on.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.