Tag: anxiety

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

They all tend to fall into a shared basket of maladies in the 21st century. Do you suffer from a triumvirate of all three or does one create major havoc in your life?

If that’s the case …. which one?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

The New York Times recently had a great article by Emma Pattee that explains the difference between anxiety, worry and stress. Since one or all affects most of us, I thought it would be great to offer a summary. You can read Pattee’s article here.

What’s WORRY?

Worry is characterized by being obsessive and repetitive. It’s when our minds ruminate and dwell on negative thoughts, uncertainties or things that could possibly go wrong. Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, Calif and author of The Stress Proof Brain explains it this way, “worry is the cognitive component of anxiety. That means worry happens only in the mind and not in the body. When we worry it calms the brain down, it’s likely to cause us to problem solve or take action. Worry is a way for the brain to handle problems in order to keep us safe. Its only when we get stuck thinking about a problem that worry stops being functional and start becoming negative.”  

If you’ve been in the clutches of worry you know how tightly it can hang on and consume our thoughts.

Dr. Luana Marques an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and President of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests taking these steps to manage worry:

  1. Give yourself a worry budget and only allow yourself to worry for a specified amount of time (i.e. 20 minutes) when the time is up. Redirect your thoughts.
  2. When you’re worried push yourself to take action to move the thought out of your mind.
  3. Write your worries down. Studies show that 8-10 minutes of writing can calm repetitive thoughts.

What’s STRESS?

Stress is a physiological response to an external event like a deadline, doctor’s appointment or exam that exceeds the individual’s resources.

Stress used to be a natural response to a threat like a lion lurking nearby. Today we’re not faced with lions but traffic, work and relationship expectations and financial issues that fire up the limbic system and release adrenaline and cortisol which help activate the brain and body to deal with the threat. Symptoms of stress are a rapid heartbeat, clammy palms and shallow breathing. While it might feel good  at first as adrenaline floods the body and gives you a boost to reach a deadline or get to an appointment, it becomes chronic stress if your body stays in this fight-or-flight mode continuously. Chronic stress can lead to many health concerns like digestive issues, increased risk of heart disease and a weakening of the immune system. Try these to manage stress.

  1. Exercise is a way for your body to recover from the increased production of adrenaline and cortisol.
  2. Know what you can control and let go of what you can’t.


Anxiety is the culmination of both worry and stress. It is both cognitive and physiological. This means we experience anxiety in both mind and body. It takes worry and stress to the next level. Dr. Marques explains it this way, “anxiety in some ways is a response to a false alarm. An example would be you show up at work and someone gives you a look. You start to experience all the physiology of a stress response because you’re telling yourself that the boss is upset with you or that your job might be at risk. The blood is flowing, the adrenaline pumping and your body is in fight-or-flight but there is no predator nearby. The threat is in your mind.”

Dr Marques reminds us that there is a difference between feeling anxiety which can be a normal part of life and having an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is a medical condition that may include stress and/or worry. Suggestions to manage simple anxiety.

  1. Limit Sugar, caffeine and alcohol
  2. Wiggle your toes – this kind of refocusing can calm you and break the anxiety loop.
  3. Distract yourself – go for a run, listen to music, cuddle a pet, or rub a piece of Velcro or velvet.


Worry happens in the mind.

Stress happens in the body.

Anxiety happens in both mind and body.

In small doses worry, stress and/or anxiety can be positive forces in our lives.  It is when it escalates and stops us from acting in healthy, positive ways that it becomes an issue that needs addressing.

OH MY WORD can be a helpful management tool for worry, stress anxiety.

OH MY WORD Journal can be helpful in managing anxiety, worry and stress.

OH MY WORD is a science backed, 5 minute daily journal that will help you transform negative thoughts, ease anxiety and worry and cultivate joy in your life.

  • Replaces negative thoughts with positive ones you choose thus redirecting the worry.
  • Positive thoughts flood the body with dopamine and serotonin diluting and effects of adrenaline and cortisol.
  • Creates a creative, mindful distraction from anxiety.

OH MY WORD Journal can be purchased here:


Barnes & Noble




Relief From Anxiety

Relief From Anxiety

ANXIETY. It makes your head feel like it’s sandwiched in a vice grip. You mind overwhelmed with thoughts of fear, doubt and worry.

Did you know that from the time a girl reaches puberty until the age of 50 she is twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than a man?


Differences in brain chemistry may account for part of these differences. The brain system involved in the fight-or-flight response is activated more readily in women and stays activated longer than men, partly as a result of the action of estrogen and progesterone.

The neurotransmitter serotonin may also play a role in the responsiveness to stress and anxiety. Some evidence suggests that the female brain does not process serotonin as quickly as the male brain. Unfair as it may be, it’s a simple fact, women suffer from anxiety much more often than men.


I suffered from anxiety for most of my life. Mine would manifest as a loop that went around and around and keep me trapped until I could break it. I was basically held hostage by my own negative thoughts. My family and close friends described me as an intense, tightly wound, obsessive person who sometimes disappeared down a rabbit hole. Not who I wanted to be. Other people didn’t know the struggle I was engaged in because I had cultivated a glossy, upbeat façade that fooled everyone. Maintaining that was a struggle in itself.

Always looking…

I was always looking for relief and ways to break the loop. I tried so many things, exercise (helped) mediation (couldn’t concentrate), affirmations (no effect), chanting (not for me), journaling (too much writing), vitamin and herbal therapy (didn’t work).

One of the things I started to do was to write down quotes that I found meaningful on an index card and tack them on my bulletin board. One day instead of writing the quote I wrote the word from the quote that had the most meaning for me … the word was joy. I wrote JOY and drew a big heart around it and then I dug out pencil crayons, glitter and sparkles and I started to play. I felt like I was channeling my inner 6-year old.  I remember tacking my it up on my bulletin board and smiling. The interesting thing was as the day went on, I kept flashing on my card. I would be reminded of the word JOY and I’d be filled with those good feelings all over again.

A few days later I did it again and tried another word. I had the same experience I was reminded of my word as I went through the day and I felt the feelings.

 I started doing more of these.

I choose words that represented who I wanted to be or what I thought I needed that day. I always had the same experience.  The word which was my intention for the day became top of mind and the loudest voice in my head as I went through the day. Whether I was in line at the grocery store, driving or at the bank I would be reminded of my intention. I would see word. I would feel the word.  The word was reflected in my experiences. I felt good.

 I called these heart doodles.

I became a disciplined heart doodler choosing an intentional word and drawing and coloring it every morning. I refined it further and started titling each page Today I CHOOSE to…TODAY made it immediate and kept me present not focused on what happened yesterday or what might be coming up tomorrow.  CHOOSE reminded me that I choosing to be in charge of my life and how I felt.

What I started to notice was that the loop of anxiety that had been my permanent side kick wasn’t there and in its place were my intentional words and feelings that I was choosing every morning.

After all the things I’d tried this ‘heart doodle’ strategy worked.

That was 6 years ago.

Heart doodles become OH MY WORD as I shared it in the workshops for women I facilitated through my Red Shoe Zone blog.

Benefits of OH MY WORD:

  • Lowers stress and eases anxiety
  • Sets the tone for the day when done first thing in the morning
  • Retrains your brain to think in new ways
  • Makes your positive intentional thoughts the loudest voices in your head
  • Allows you to choose who you will be, how you will express yourself and how you will live- you are in control
  • Allows you to interrupt negative habitual thoughts and replace them with positive ones

Other ways to reduce anxiety that helped me:

  • Cut down on caffeine
  • Get regular exercise
  • Take deep belly breaths
  • Eat well balanced healthy meals

Purchase OH MY WORD on Amazon.com

Purchase OH MY WORD on Amazon.ca

Purchase OH MY WORD at Chapters/Indigo

How to Stop Negative Thoughts From Taking Over

How to Stop Negative Thoughts From Taking Over

Sometimes it feels like negative thoughts have taken over our brains. They move in and refuse to budge reminding us of worst-case scenarios and incessantly asking what if? They tell us why we can’t do something and why none of our ideas will work.

Did you know we each think between 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day and the majority of these are habitual and the voices of fear, doubt, worry and anxiety?  We infuse these thoughts with so much emotional energy, they become the biggest, loudest most powerful thoughts in our head.

Out with the old in with the new

We need a way to replace the negative, nagging thoughts with those representing the highest intentions of who we are and want to be.   It’s not that we don’t have positive thoughts, we do. It’s just that they’re busy navigating the 1,000-lane thought expressway, battling thousands of blaring thought streams while attempting to generate energy and gain momentum.

It’s a tough go for these positive intentional thoughts.

You can see how the highest expression of who we are, what we want and how we want to live our lives might get lost in the chaos.

There’s good news!

The good news is that we, as the creator of our lives, can crank up the volume by becoming clear on what we want, choosing an intention and moving it from thought to action every morning.

Thoughts need activation

To activate, our intentions need fuel to move from head into heart. This fuel supply is provided by the emotions and allows for the integration of body and mind where the real magic happens.

It’s like this. When we understand something intellectually (left side of the brain) and then make it ‘experiential’ by moving it into our emotions (right side of the brain) we are providing the life-giving fuel our intentions need to be turned on. We can then think and feel the thought.

When we experience the thought, we can change. 

The rewired brain

This experiential process actually rewires the brain, causing the neurons to create new patterns and producing a chemical that the body remembers as we move through the day.

This is also a form of what scientists call metacognition – which means it’s a way of tricking the brain into achieving our greatest good. We’ve successfully interrupted and distracted the negative disempowering thoughts with super charged intentional thoughts allowing them to break through the congestion and get to work.

OH, MY WORD gets the job done

When you do the simple five-minute OH MY WORD morning ritual it interrupts the negative thought patterns and alters the brain, causing the neurons to start firing in new ways. The mind remembers your intention and is on the lookout for ways to manifest and make it concrete.

You Think it. Feel it. Live it.

You are actively creating who you want to be by using just a word.

So, I ask you.

Who do you want to be? How do you want to express yourself?

Find a word that represents your deepest intention.

Draw the word.

Colour it.

Through the drawing and colouring process you’ve moved the thought from intellect (left side of the brain) to experiential (right side of the brain).

A new neural pathway has been created.

The rewiring process has begun.

Negative thought disabled.

Replaced by highest intention positive thought that you chose.


BUY OH, MY WORD in Canada at Chapters/Indigo

BUY OH, MY WORD in US and International at  Amazon





Tips For Making Your OH, MY WORD Practice (even more) Awesome!

Tips For Making Your OH, MY WORD Practice (even more) Awesome!

OH, MY WORD journaling has been described as a 5-minute active mediation.

Get cozy in a comfy chair, sip your morning coffee or tea, choose an intentional word that describes who you want to be, draw and colour.

In that 5 minutes you’ve interrupted an old, negative, habitual thought and replaced it with a positive new one, created a new neural pathway and begun to rewire your brain.

How’s that for a good use of your time??

OH, MY WORD journaling makes you feel great. There are a few things you can do to intensify your practice and make it even more effective.

It’s a 5 minute active meditation

6 ways to make OH, MY WORD (even more) awesome.


My favourite time to do OH, MY WORD is first thing in the morning because it sets the tone for the entire day.  But it can be successfully adapted for families (in the evening) and to fit work schedules.


Use good quality pencil crayons…usually described as ‘artist quality’. These are just more fun to work with! They are smooth and velvety on the paper, they blend well and the colours are particularly vibrant and beautiful. Claire Moore (illustrator of OH, MY WORD) has offered her recommendations. Check them out here. 


When you complete the sentence Today I choose to….. make sure the word (or phrase) you choose is active. Verbs like love, forgive, trust, explore, experiment, create, see, listen are great examples. If you choose a word that isn’t a verb you can make it active by adding ‘be’ (ie be grateful, be peaceful, be vulnerable, be generous, be free, be present etc). Short phrases work very well too when made active like…. go for it, take a risk, speak my truth, stand up.  Making the word active catapults you into that state of  ‘being’ and super charges the intention and your day.


Throughout the day when you’re stuck in traffic, in line at the grocery store, waiting at the doctor or dentist’s office take 3 deep breaths and think of your word. What I do it is see my word on the page.  I take a deep belly breath inhaling through the nose to count of 4 holding it at the top and exhaling to a count of 6 (I exhale through my nose you can exhale through your mouth if you prefer) holding at the bottom and repeat. This has the power to make me super chill in just a couple minutes. Plus, I’ve breathed all that energy and power into my word. Very satisfying.  Very uplifting. Very powerful.


This is the most commonly asked question by OH, MY WORD journalers . Can I repeat a word? Yes…yes…and YES! You can repeat a word as many times as you like for as long as you like. What you do have to do is draw it on a fresh page every day. I’ve repeated certain words over and over and over. The only person that knows when its time to move on is You.


We all hit patches when the going gets tough. We’re overwhelmingly busy, dealing with a setback, in crisis mode whatever it is the we feel like we’re struggling in the trenches. Don’t stop OH, MY WORD journaling! Have you ever noticed that when things get challenging in our lives we often stop doing all the things that are good for us. We say things like, “It’s just not the ‘right’ time to…. (go to the gym, meditate, journal, get out in nature, eat healthy food etc….). Let me tell you as one whose been there it’s the ‘right-est’ time EVER. Do. Not. Stop. Get something on the page even if its…Today I choose to…breathe. This can be particularly good since when we’re in the trenches we often hold our breath and forget to breathe! I promise it will help.


Colour outside the lines.

Channel your 6-year-old self as you draw your word.


BUY OH, MY WORD at Chapters/Indigo in Canada

BUY OH, MY WORD at Amazon for US and International

Teens Release Anxiety with OH MY WORD

Teens Release Anxiety with OH MY WORD

Teens release anxiety by doodling their intentions in OH MY WORD journal.

Today’s teenagers suffer from anxiety more than young people ever have. Social media creates expectation and social norms that are not real or grounded. Families are busy and stressed to the max. Human interaction is down and digital connection is up.

Teens need strategies more than ever before to thrive, release anxiety and positively shape their developing sense of self.


OH, MY WORD is a science based method of journaling that can release negative, anxious thoughts and replace them with positive ones. It’s a simple process that takes 5 minutes. The user chooses an intention word contained in the journal that reflects the person they want to be. They draw and colour it on the daily page. That’s it. In 5 minutes a new neural pathway has been created and the brain has begun to rewire itself with the positive intention.

OH, MY WORD allows journal-ers to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.


The thought interruption used in OH, MY WORD is part of a skill category called metacognition. Which is the act of thinking about thinking. It’s how we talk ourselves out of negative thought patterns and create positive ones. Metacognitive ability increases significantly during the teenage years, so it’s important to provide ways for teens to both choose and manage their thoughts in healthy ways.


  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Increases feelings of relaxation and calmness
  • Increases self-acceptance
  • Helps create a strong sense of self
Teens need positive strategies to develop a strong sense of self



When we know ‘why’ we are motivated. Encourage teens to read the Four Pillars and The Intentions. This will help them connect to an understanding of how of OH, MY WORD works (which is pretty cool) and why it’s important. It will help them see they are not alone in dealing with anxiety and that we are all in the process of becoming the best version of ourselves.


We all need game plans. OH, MY WORD provides your teen with an easy one.  Simply choose an intentional word that describes the person they want to be. For example, if your teen gets nervous every time they write a test suggest words like one of these…

Today I choose to …. Believe (I know the material and it will come to me as I need it)

Today I choose to …. Trust (everything I need to know will come to me)

Today I choose to …. Relax (with a relaxed mind I can recall everything I need)

Today I choose to …… Excel (I am smart…I am more than capable of acing this test)


Teens these days are into the various 30-day challenges that float around on social media. Challenge your teen to spend 5 minutes working in their OH, MY WORD journal every day and see how differently they feel at the end of 30 days.


Teens like the rest of us are extremely busy so strategies have to be not only effective but fit into modern life. Five minutes a day one word. Doesn’t get easier than that.


Its tough being a teen. Modern family life is full of distractions, activities and outside demands resulting in many families feeling disconnected and teenagers left to figure things out on their own. For answers to life problems they often look to friends or turn to the internet. While on one hand teens ‘look’ very sophisticated these days they are still….teens. We can’t expect them to have their own coping strategies in place nor can we solve all their problem for them. It is however our responsibly to acknowledge the difficulties they face and teach them skills that will help them cope and thrive. Establishing practices that support, uplift and strengthen them in daily life and give them life skills that they can benefit from for the rest of their lives.

The teen years are challenging ones.

Please share this with friends and loved ones and visit OH, MY WORD

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