Anticipating Restriction

Anticipating the lean back
Photography by Nate Dale – New Adventure Production

You know the feeling when you wait for the person in front of you on an airplane to lean back and restrict you even further in to the the tight small seat?

You know that feeling, right? Wishing and hoping they won’t but at the same time realizing that they are perfectly right do so. Should I lean back too? Let the seat backs cascade down the aisle? This anticipation of discomfort to come is not the best feeling. (For a fuller account of airplane discomfort you can read, Inflight Therapy: For those traveling far and within on amazon kindle.)

For now the question is simple, how do you brace for impact, for being leaned into, for constriction, for discomfort?

As Thanksgiving travel and associated anxiety approaches in a few months, what are your strategies for coping? Music, breathing exercises, reading, meditating? Anticipating and thinking of coping skills ahead of time can reduce our anxiety response. Accepting and addressing the discomfort to come helps ironically ease it. Just recognizing discomfort without a related alleviation attempt, I imagine would increase anxiety. So, it might be worth taking the time to think ahead to this moment and find your empowered coping strategy. Resist the lean, at least emotionally 🙂

Wishing you ease,


Take your emotional temperature

Just like a fever indicates a medical concern, anxiety indicates an emotional concern. What is your anxiety telling you?

Anxiety indicates that a conflict is ensuing, and so long as there is conflict a positive solution is within the realm of possibility. In this respect anxiety has been likened to the prognostic value of fever: it is a sign of struggle within the personality and an indication, speaking in psychopathological terms, that serious disintegration has not yet occurred (Yaskin).

May Ph.D., Rollo. The Meaning Of Anxiety . Hauraki Publishing. Kindle Edition.

As a sign of struggle normal anxiety focuses us on the present conflict by exposing the emotional temperature. Anxiety surrounding an exam, public speaking, presentation, meeting new people etc. simply points to caring. This is important to me, anxiety reminds us. It need to overwhelm the event in a negative, fearful and blinding light. Just as a fever tells us to rest, cover and care, a rise in anxiety does the same. Of course, in a hospital a fever is treated differently, and with alarm. This medical and emotional history maybe the difference between neurotic anxiety and normal anxiety.

To be sure, neurotic anxiety is the result of unfortunate learning in the respect that the individual was forced to deal with threatening situations at a period—usually in early childhood—when he was incapable of coping directly or constructively with such experiences. In this respect, neurotic anxiety is the result of the failure to cope with the previous anxiety situations in one’s experiences. But normal anxiety is not the result of unfortunate learning; it arises rather from a realistic appraisal of one’s situation of danger. To the extent that a person can succeed in constructively meeting the normal day-to-day anxiety experiences as they arise, he avoids the repression and retrenchment which make for later neurotic anxiety.

May Ph.D., Rollo. The Meaning Of Anxiety . Hauraki Publishing. Kindle Edition.

In order to confront anxiety, we need to recognize the rise in our emotional temperature. This is why mindfulness can help ease anxiety. We practice looking inward and measuring the emotional temperature of the moment. How can we avoid repression and retrenchment unless we recognize that we are simply appraising an experience? How can I succeed in constructively meeting day-to-day anxiety unless I mindfully engage it? Self-aware ease requires courage to confront discomfort and most importantly consistent practice.

What experiences raise your emotional temperature? How do you treat it?

Wishing you meaningful anxiety,


Rest, retreat, remove anxiety?
Photography by Nate Dale – New Adventure Production

Cooking is my coping skill

Like you, Hungyphil has many dimensions and manifestations: Wobblyogi and now Angstytherapist. This blog started as a way to retain and share food experiences, it grew to add yoga and mindfulness, and now counseling and therapy. Like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Hungry Philosopher is munching away at life one leaf at a time. Not sure if a butterfly will ever emerge through these efforts but it sure is fun to try.


So, how am I going to combine food, mindfulness, AND therapy? Here is my first attempt.

The last four months I did my internship at a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for kids between the ages of 8-18. I’ll be sharing more from that experience in the coming weeks. All sorts of sad and hurt ranging from homicidal thoughts, incest, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, anxiety,  depression and trauma brought these kids to the programs. One of the main tasks of the programs were helping them develop distress tolerance and coping skills that could would work for them individually.

Here is a sample list of coping skills from


Number 59 is Blog. I also use eating, cooking, reading, writing, yoga, meditation and drawing. Coping skills sounds very much like general and generic things I just like to do.

They are.

So how can things I just like to do help me ease anxiety and depression?

Its a simple principle.

When life tastes bitter, add activities, tastes, sights and smells that you love. Change the recipe.

Easier said than done. Let’s talk more about it. For now,

What are your coping skills?

Wishing you self-aware ease,