Worry, anger, stress, perfectionism, body image: if you feel it, we want to talk about it. This is a show for humans of all ages about the difficult emotions we all struggle with. We share research-based solutions for the greater mental wellness of your whole family. You’ll learn tools for improved mindfulness, communication, self-awareness, and we hope you’ll laugh with us along the way. Join hosts Ed Crasnick, a comedian and Emmy Award winning writer, and Renee Jain, positive psychology guru and the founder of GoZen!
Here's the Latest Episode from Dear Anxiety:
Time flies when you're recording podcasts! Amazing to think that it's been a year since we launched Dear Anxiety. Even more amazing to think about the dozens of topics we've covered, the hundreds of thousands of downloads, and the wealth of heartfelt ratings, reviews, and emails we've received. Thank you, listeners, for making it all possible! Ed and Renee conclude season one by reflecting on the show, and sharing a few quick thoughts about their mental preparation for the fast-approaching holiday season.
We all want to raise grateful kids: kids who say thank you at the dinner table, show appreciation for every convenience they have, and express gratitude for all the gifts they're given. But gratitude isn't just about the words we speak. It's about what happens in our bodies and minds when we truly reflect on all that's good in our lives. And what about our own gratitude? Ed and Renee are here with tools for helping everyone in your family grow their gratitude skills.
Were you popular in school? Part of the "in" crowd? Or did you always feel like you were on the outside looking in? And what about our kids? Do you see them struggling with the same pressures of popularity made even worse in a digital age? Everyone understands the pains associated with "popularity," whether you always felt excluded, or you were at the top of the social ladder trying to maintain a status that you didn't fully understand. Listen in as Ed and Renee share their own emotional experiences, break down what it means to be popular, explain how working to be popular might actually be a good thing, and offer tools to help kids navigate their emotions and find a place of belonging in any social structure.
"School is so boring." "I don't have anything to do." "This car ride takes too long!" "I'm. So. BORED!" Everyone has heard these protests from their kids, and there's something about their words that pressures us into action, as if they were facing some physical danger. But what exactly is boredom, and why do we feel the need to fix it so urgently? Should we be fixing it at all? What are the reasons kids get bored in the first place? Hear all these questions asked and answered on this stimulating episode of Dear Anxiety.
One of the hardest things about coping with anxiety is feeling the physical manifestations in our bodies. Blushing. Sweating. Racing hearts. Shortness of breath. Shaking hands. For some, the symptoms are annoying and embarrassing. For others, they're scary, even mimicking the symptoms of a heart attack! Plus, those symptoms themselves can make our worry worse; we get anxiety about our anxious experience! In this episode, Ed and Renee talk us through our physical reactions to anxiety, and no episode would be complete without plenty of tools to help us fight back.
Most adults know that they're supposed to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Despite that knowledge, many of us don't really come close hitting that target. And teens are even worse! When it comes to getting their recommended hours of sleep, 97% of them fall short. So, what is the real cost of sleep deprivation? How can we help our kids get the rest that's essential for their development, and how can we change our own sleep habits so that we can show up as our best selves? Ed and Renee have answers to all these questions on this weeks episode.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and parenting with compassion is no exception. Really, caring and compassion can be flat out exhausting, so much so that there has been actual research into the issue of compassion fatigue. Ed and Renee know you're here because you ARE a compassionate parent, so they spend this episode exploring why caring is tiring, how we can make space for ourselves to rejuvenate, and they give us examples of how we can show up as our best, most loving selves, even when we feel we've got nothing left to give.
It would be hard to find a human who didn't want to be more confident, but despite the universal appeal, confidence means something a little different to everybody. Do you want more confidence on social situations? In relationships? Do you want to be more confident giving speeches? Or how about simply being more confidence in who you are as an authentic individual? Ed and Renee touch on all of these things while taking on confidence in this week's episode of Dear Anxiety.
"I love homework," said nobody ever. After a long day of sitting quietly, following directions, trying to focus, and being otherwise un-childlike, our kids are expected to come home, sit down, and do more of the same. Yuck! Additionally, many put pressure on themselves to perform and show up perfectly, so just the act of studying or being assessed is stressful. In this listener-requested episode, Ed and Renee take on homework by sharing tools for finding motivation and discovering the "why" of homework.
We loving getting your letters and messages, and we've dedicated this entire episode to reading and responding to our favorites. There are letters from parents with struggling children, encouraging success stories from listeners who are making positive changes, and new strategies and interventions for dealing with the mental wellness challenges we face every day.
Even if you're a person who experiences worry, even if you're all too familiar with the mental turmoil and physical pain of anxiety, most of us don't know how to help others who are dealing with similar challenges. Even worse, we find that anxiety in others starts to cause anxiety in ourselves. In this episode, Ed and Renee walk us through ways to calm and comfort our anxious family members and friends without escalating their experience or trying to match their emotions ourselves.
Maybe it's that time of year, when your kids are heading back to school, or maybe going for the first time. Maybe it's a first stay with a babysitter. Maybe it's a first sleepover. Whatever the case, it can be hard for a child to leave a parent. And really, just as hard for a parent to leave a child. At some point, we all experience some anxiety over being apart. It's a normal, biological response to separation from a protector or dependent. But we all need to endure those separations, and Ed and Renee are here with some tools for doing just that.
All the answers to your mental wellness challenges are right here in this very episode! Included is a simple set of instructions that will change your life: "You just have to look at the bright side and think more positively." Ugh, if only anything was that simple. In this episode, Ed and Renee talk through the complexities of three different types of mindsets: optimistic mindset, growth mindset, and stress mindset. You'll learn how they affect our behavior, and how they affect what happens inside our bodies.
At some point in time, everyone feels the pain of not fitting in. It hurts to feel like there is nobody else around who is just like us. But really, why shouldn't we be unique? Why shouldn't we be one of a kind? Why shouldn't we embrace our superpower of being original? In this episode, Renee explains what it means to be original, to listen to your inner voice, and follow your heart, but it all begins with some emotional storytelling and confessions by Ed.
This week, we're happy share Renee's interview with Dr. Justin Coulson. Dr. Coulson is a respected and popular parenting expert, and is sought after for his advice on family life, relationships, well-being, and resilience.
Are you not sure what post-traumatic growth means? That's okay, Ed doesn't know either. But, as he's fond of saying, thank goodness Renee is here. She describes the importance of finding value after challenging experiences, explains the contrast to post-traumatic stress, and together, Ed and Renee demonstrate some of the skills involved in helping kids find the positive hidden in the negative, while balancing the importance of allowing them space to feel their hurt.
Have you been searching for the meaning of life? Relax, you've finally found it! Well, you've found a podcast about meaning, at least. There are a lot of myths about meaning in life. Is it tied to work? Family? Helping others? Or is it something else entirely? Believe it or not, there have been studies done about what gives life the most meaning, and Ed and Renee are here to share some of that information, give you some tips for helping your kids find meaning, and maybe they'll help you find some yourself.
Most of us know people who always believe, no matter the circumstances, that things will turn out just peachy! At the same time, we know people who breath constant doom and gloom and believe that the decks are always stacked against success. Of course, the truth usually lies somewhere between. Join Ed and Renee as they demonstrate tools for finding the balance between both extremes, and teach us all how to be realistic optimists.
Science shows us that when we feel a sense of rejection, when we feel like we don't fit in, it activates the same part of our brain as physical pain. That means that when we lack a sense of belonging, it literally hurts. No wonder we all work so hard to fit in! But is "fitting in" what's best for us? It turns out that can hurt, too. In this episode, we discover the differences between belonging and fitting in, and we learn the meaning of real acceptance.
Humans have a unique ability to time travel in our minds. We revisit the past so we can learn from it. We try to predict the future so that we can be prepared. But sometimes, when we look into the future, we see too much uncertainty, and the result is a truckload of worry and anxiety. "What if it rains during the party? What if the food doesn't turn out? What if nobody shows up? What if nobody has fun? What if none of these people are really my friends?" Ed and Renee are master what-iffers, and all that experience has left them with a lot of tools for managing what-ifs, and focusing on what really matters.
Some topics are too large to cover just once. In this episode, Ed and Renee dive back into what researchers call "intentional delay." They discuss when procrastination is good, when procrastination is bad, and when it's downright ugly. And for those of us still trying to fight our procrastinating demons, it turns out that forgiveness and self-compassion has a huge role to play in how we get stuff done in the future.
Remember long summer days as a child, when, in the best way, you had nothing to do for days, you invented games with friends, explored neighborhoods, and just got lost in the luxury of free time? Well, that sure went away fast. With our stressful lives, who has time to relax like that anymore? Not many of us, and even worse, not many of our kids know that freedom, either. These days busy schedules rule, but at what cost? Listen in as Renee and Ed discuss the high price of the over-scheduling phenomenon and share ideas about what you and your kids can do about it.
Our thoughts are notoriously inaccurate. We exaggerate. We misinterpret. We process selectively. So how can we tell the difference between the truth and lies? Renee thinks that understanding cognitive distortions, or "thought holes," is the single most important mental wellness tool a person can have. In this episode, she and Ed help us identify different kinds of thought holes, show us how we can get ourselves unstuck from them, and they host a game show with fabulous prizes.
Why is it so hard to be loved? We're not talking about being loved by other people; we all have people who love us. Why is it so hard to be loved by ourselves? Why is it easier to beat ourselves up than it is to have some compassion for ourselves? Why is it easier to say "I need to be better" than it is to say "I love who I am right now"? It's a love fest for Ed and Renee, as they discuss some scientific reasons for showing ourselves more love, reasons we're so self critical, and offer some tools more making it easier to be inwardly affectionate. Also, Ed sings!
It's a week off for your hosts, Ed Crasnick and Renee Jain, but Dear Anxiety must go on! We're happy to share with our listeners this interview with Dr. Tamar Chansky, a psychologist dedicated to helping children, teens, and adults overcome anxiety. Dr. Chansky discusses hallmark signs of anxiety, tips for role playing with your child (a Dear Anxiety favorite), and some games to help your child understand what their worry is telling them.
Frustration is bad, right? We certainly treat it that way. When our kids get frustrated, we want them to stop. Immediately! Their frustration even frustrates us. As for ourselves, sometimes feeling frustrated fuels even more frustration. Well, if you've ever heard Dear Anxiety before, you probably know that "frustration is bad" isn't the whole truth. Renee and Ed explain what exactly frustration is, why we feel it, and how the feeling of frustration is really just the tip of an emotional iceberg.
Nearly everyone, kids included, struggles with sleep. In fact, the problem is so rampant, the Centers for Disease Control called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. Anxiety kicks in, thoughts begin to race, fears run wild, and all we can do is stare at the ceiling. In this episode Renee recounts her battles with sleep, Ed ponders whether he's slept enough to be considered human, and together they share nine tools, strategies, and bits of wisdom to help you and your child when it comes to nighttime battles.
Your child seems afraid of being around other kids, and it hurts to see them struggle so much with friends. Why are they behaving this way? Are they just shy? Insecure? Or could this be social anxiety? What does that even mean? The first step in discussing social anxiety is to discuss what social anxiety is not. Social anxiety is not being an introvert. Social anxiety is not being shy. Social anxiety is not feeling a little nervous. If it's not those things, then what is it? Ed and Renee discuss the hard, disruptive impact of social anxiety on our lives and on the lives of our kids, and they introduce some interventions for managing it.
How would you describe loneliness? Is it isolation? Disconnection? A feeling of not belonging? Whatever words you choose, we can all agree it hurts, and it hurts so much, it actually rises to the level of a public health issue. That's right, it has real, physical consequences! Researchers have come to some stunning conclusions, stating loneliness may be the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and that it's more dangerous for your body than obesity. In this episode, Ed and Renee help us understand what loneliness really is, what it is not, and how we can help ourselves, and our loved ones, navigate this dangerous and painful state of mind.
We've all heard that "comparison is the thief of joy." Still, we can't help but measure ourselves against others. We compare our jobs and salaries, clothes and appearances, relationships and families. Our kids to it, too, measuring popularity, grades, looks, athleticism, social media numbers. Social comparison isn't bad when we let it inspire us, when we recognize and respect the achievements of others. However, too often the comparisons make us feel inadequate, like failures, or just plain bad about ourselves. Ed and Renee have been there, and they know a thing or two about turning the tide on the pain of social comparison.
Ed and Renee have the week off, but that doesn't mean Dear Anxiety gets a break. We're happy to share this interview with Dr. Laura Markham. Dr. Markham is a Clinical Psychologist with a PhD from Columbia University, and she’s also a mom who translates proven science into practical solutions for your family. In a conversation pulled from the Resilient Child Summit, she shares strategies for diminishing anxiety, anger, and fear in your child, and in yourself, too.
We've all felt it. That volatile sensation that just one more item on the to-do list, or one more job to do, or one more role to play, is going to put us completely over the edge. There's only so much we can handle, and any more will make our heads spin. Overwhelm. Ed and Renee have felt it, too, and in this episode, they show up with some tools for helping us, and our overwhelmed children, get control of our countless responsibilities, and our emotions.
Why do mistakes hurt so much? What is it about failing that makes us feel worthless, broken, and afraid to try again? Ed and Renee explain that we come into the world knowing that we learn by experimenting, failing, and repeating, but when we lose sight of what it takes to grow our minds, we become fixed and fearful. Listen in as they describe exercises to actually encourage mistakes, risk-taking, and a growth-mindset.
We're obsessed with happiness. Our greetings and wishes for others frequently include the word happy: Happy New Year; Happy Birthday; Happy Friday. Among the founding principles of the United States is the right to pursue happiness. Parents want their kids to grow up happy, and I’m sure that doesn’t sound like a terrible plan to the kids, either. So where do we get some of this happiness, and once we have it, how do we keep it? That's the tricky part. In this episode, we explore happiness, optimism, and positivity, and learn skills for cultivating those very feelings.
92% of teens go online daily. Of those, 52% are online several times per day, and 26% are online almost constantly. Are parents' statistics any better? Not really. Yes, mobile devices certainly have our attention, but why do we spend so much precious time staring at screens? What value do we get from social media and technology? Can we use these tools in more constructive ways? In this episode, we learn that when it comes to technology, sometimes it's not about getting the right answers, but about asking ourselves the right questions. Join Ed and Renee in their conversation about making more mindful use of our devices.
Most people know what meditation is: cross your legs uncomfortably; get rid off all your thoughts; enter a trance-like state. Right? Um, no. In this calming episode, Ed and Renee debunk some widespread myths about what meditation is and is not. They describe the real science of the practice, how it affects our bodies and our minds, and how we can easily incorporate it into our daily lives. If that wasn't enough, they guide us through some simple meditations right in the episode, leaving us all in a better, more peaceful place.
Rates of diagnosed depression are on the rise for people of all ages, especially teens. How bad is it? According to a report by Blue Cross Blue Shield, in the last six years cases have increased nearly 50% for millennials, and more than 60% for teens. Could anything make those numbers worse? Try imagining the number of cases that go unreported because children, teens, and adults alike feel they have nobody to talk to about their suffering. Ed and Renee have experience battling their own depression, and they’re here to say that even if you haven’t yet found the ability to talk to another person, you can always talk back to the voice of depression itself.
Anxiety is debilitating. Worry robs you of happiness. Stress is a killer.
I can’t imagine anyone reading this would disagree with those statements, and that’s exactly why we’re so lucky to have Ed and Renee! In this episode, they propose that one of the best ways to manage our anxiety and stress is to, well, change the way we think about our anxiety and stress. Of course, that sounds a little too good to be true. Like, seriously? I’m just going to think something and it’s going to change my life? Yes, that’s the idea, and it’s backed up with real science!
It feels like negative thoughts have a living, physical presence. They travel in groups, often gaining speed and momentum, following one after the other. They can surround us, cage us, keep us up at night like obnoxious neighbors. We spend a lot of energy fighting them off, like an infestation of pests. Luckily, Ed and Renee know these feelings well, and they’re here with strategies for … wait a second … allowing them? How can that be right? Listen and find out!
If you asked your child if they'd like to do homework right now, or wait until tomorrow, can you predict their answer? What if I said you could skip work today, then make up the time next week? Not one of us is immune to procrastination, even when we're motivated to do something. We know we should go to the gym, but we're sure we'll have more energy later. We need to write that report, but it'll only take a few minutes and we can do that on the bus in the morning. In this episode, Renee and Ed get "sciencey" and tell us why we all procrastinate, why it has nothing to do with being disorganized, and what we can all do to get things done without delay.
Your heart is beating out of your chest. The air is gone from your lungs. Your body is rigid and you're sweating through your clothes. The first of your racing thoughts: you're having a heart attack. But that's not it. It's a panic attack, and when it's over, there is relief in the fact that you're okay, that you'll live, but that relief is quickly replaced with more dread. Because... now what? What's wrong with me? What if it happens again? Is there anything I can do to prevent it? In this special episode, Renee shares her personal experience with panic attacks and, together with Ed, discusses the science of these very real, very painful events that affect millions.
Wait, why are we discussing our bodies on a show about mental wellness? A person's view of their own body is often tied directly to their self-esteem, and their self-acceptance. Now consider these facts: 53% of 13 year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies; 50% of teen girls and 30% of teen boys have used unhealthy weight control techniques; 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Yikes! This is a must-listen episode, in which hosts Ed and Renee address how we all think about our bodies, and how we can improve those thoughts.
We've all had those horrible thoughts: I'm not good enough; nobody likes me; I'm so stupid sometimes. That's the harsh voice of self-criticism. It's hard enough to hear it in our own heads, but when we know that voice is in our children's heads, it hurts even more. So how do we fight it? Enter self-compassion! Listen in as Ed and Renee unlock secrets to turning thoughts from foe to best friend.
Kids got anger? Forget anger management, let's teach kids to use their anger as a positive catalyst for change. Using research-based strategies, you may just discover that it's easier for our kids to change their habits than it is for us. If that's not enough, you'll learn Ed's "one line" to change your life.
Would you believe that having anxiety can actually cause more anxiety? Join hosts Renee and Ed as they discuss worrying about worry. They’ll introduce the mission of the Dear Anxiety podcast, and share tools to help both you and your child through bouts of anxiety.
Perfectionism isn’t always about getting things right. Often, it’s about avoidance, unhealthy comparisons, negative self-talk, and anxiety over showing up as you really are. If you or your kids experience perfectionistic tendencies including fear of failure, taking risks, and trying new things, this episode is for you. Listen as Ed Crasnick and Renee Jain explore strategies for putting perfectionists on a path toward self-acceptance.
Anger is everywhere: on the news, on our roads, in our schools, and in our homes. It’s a stigmatized emotion, one that nobody is proud of, and one we discourage ourselves, and our kids, from feeling. So, why does this podcast begin with positive psychology expert Renee Jain urging us to, “please, feel your anger”? That’s right, in this first of two episodes on anger, Renee and co-host Ed Crasnick wrestle the issue and arrive at some surprising conclusions.