Dealing with Anxiety

Link to the Episode

Anshu Bahanda: This is Anshu Bahanda on Wellness Curated. Thanks for joining me on this podcast. My mission is to empower you with health and wellness so that you can then go and empower others. 

Welcome, Bushra. Thank you so much. I’m so excited to have you here. 

Bushra Khan: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much, Anshu. 

AB: So, my first question to you is: What is wellness to you?

BK: What is wellness to me? So, wellness to me is having a positive dialogue with myself, and my thoughts. So, let’s say something negative is happening, or the situation, the way things are happening when something kicks in— how do I dialogue with myself? That’s very important to me. And wellness for me is eating healthy, sleeping on time, getting at least 7 hours of sleep, meditating, having really positive people around me and having a good support system around me. That’s really wellness for me.

AB: Okay, lovely. I love what you said about the positive dialogue with yourself. I’ve never got that. I ask everyone and I’ve never got that answer before. That’s lovely. 

BK: Thank you.

AB: Bushra, will you explain to us what you do? Also, the main forms of therapy which you use to tackle worry, anxiety, stress, and depression?

BK: So I do a lot of holistic work, I do a lot of mindful work, which has a lot of different modalities, Anshu. And we don’t have that much time to go into everything, but I do EFT [Emotion-focused therapy], so that’s tapping on the meridian points. That’s amazing. We’ll discuss a little bit later about tools on anxiety. So EFT… I do EMDR [Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing] when people are suffering from trauma, and especially I do RTT [Rapid Transformational Therapy®], which is amazing. This traditional way is to have 20 to 30 sessions and after three years, you’ll literally maybe know what the real issue is. RTT is amazing to go to the core of the problem, where is the problem sitting? And to literally take it out from there and change it and give a different suggestion to the mind. And you said about anxiety, so let me just quickly tell you what is anxiety. We all have anxiety. Every human being has anxiety. This is our flight or fight system. We are born with it…to assess real thought, to keep us alive, to assess the real threat to keep us alive. Anxiety is our survival mechanism. So, let’s see, for example, if a zebra is attacked, being attacked by a lion, the anxiety will turn on, his fight or flight mode will turn on, and he will run to save his life. But once he’s out of the danger, then he just goes on about his life. But what happens with us is that, when we are under real threat, the anxiety kicks in. But we are the only species on this planet that can create, turn on and off our anxiety mode just with the thought. So, let’s say if I go to Starbucks, somebody by mistake spills coffee on me and I will get excited or shocked about it. And so, my fight or flight mode will kick in and my heart will start to race and the breathing will become shallow and all of a sudden [I’ll feel like], oh my God, what happened to me? So you felt the danger because maybe the coffee was hot. What we do is… it’s passed now. But we’ll go home, we’ll discuss with our family, with our children, with our husband. You won’t believe what happened to me. A friend called and you’ll say ‘you won’t believe what happened to me’. So, we keep on carrying it. You will not see the zebra going back and telling his friends and all the animals, you won’t believe I got attacked by a lion and I saved my life. So basically, the fight or flight mode… the anxiety is for us to assess, to stay alive for the real danger. But the problem comes, Anshu, when we keep talking about it, keep thinking about it, we don’t let it go. That’s where the problem is. So that’s where we just prolong the suffering.

AB: So, on that note, you know how currently it’s an environment that none of us are familiar with. This has never happened before, right? A lot of the structures I believe are changing slowly. The way we were used to doing things, it’s all slowly changing. And then we were in this extreme lockdown and then we feel like it might be coming back on. There are all these limitations. So why is this something that is causing the levels of stress that we’re staying in flight or fight mode? Why are we not able to get used to it and go into rest and recovery mode?

BK: Because this is something that has never happened to us, right? It is the first time ever. Our generation or our children have not faced something like this. Maybe our parents have…when there was partition and all these things, but we have never faced all these things. So for us, it’s something so alien. And just remember, we have a primitive mind. So people don’t like change. Even if it’s good for them, they will resist it. They said, no, I don’t want to do this. In organizations and places of work, people don’t like change. They will, first thing, resist it, then when they will move on in life and connect the dots. Actually, it was positive, it was a good change.

AB: Right.

BK: So, what’s happening right now is the fear of death. It’s fear of death and what’s going to happen. So, they say that science has proven that depression doesn’t come from a chemical imbalance, it comes from the thoughts we tell ourselves and secondly, no human connection. That’s why AA became so successful, because people were getting together and talking. So, we need human connection. And over here we are being taken away.

AB: Are you talking about Alcoholics Anonymous?

BK: Alcoholics Anonymous. The reason it became so famous and popular (is) because people are getting together and they were talking to each other. So, they realized they didn’t need alcohol because they had a human touch. So that is being taken away from us. We are being told maybe you should stop meeting… putting control over people meeting at home. So, you can’t meet your friends, you can’t meet people. So, you’re losing the human connection. When you meet people, you can’t hug them, you can’t shake their hands or [do any] physical touch. So, we are getting a bit depressed inside and also, we don’t know what’s going to happen. So, people or [rather] the thought is creating the worst-case scenarios. But again, I will give some tools later on how we can stop that and how we can come to the present moment to deal with it. But the truth is that we are going through a change and we are being threatened by this whole system where we can’t meet people and all that. So, I would suggest that keep the connection going by talking to people on video calls and somehow try and keep the connection going. Don’t alienate yourself because it will create many long-lasting mental health issues. 

AB: Right. I think people are getting zoom fatigue as they call it. They want to see people [face-to-face]. That’s what’s happening. But can you give me an example of situations where you’ve had success with anxiety, with depression, where you’ve had very good success before we go on to tools?

BK: Yeah, sure. So, Anshu, the thing is that right now all my clients are suffering from anxiety. Before there was suffering from relationships, money issues, and mother-in-law issues. Now it’s all about anxiety. RTT, Rapid Transformational Therapy, is amazing with anxiety. I had a client, who was really suffering. She couldn’t perform her daily chores. Like she couldn’t go to work. Every time she would decide to leave home, her legs would become jelly-like and she would pass out. And on the train, she thought that you know what, she would pass out and nobody would be able to save her. She had very strong, very bad anxiety. 

AB: Right.

BK: She came to me and in two sessions was completely fine. In the first session, we obviously calmed her down. Saying that it is okay, relax. In the second session, we did RTT. So we took her [mind] to the problem. What’s the core problem? Where is it coming from? So, it was coming from her father’s death. She lost her father when she was very young. So basically, nobody could save him. Nobody could do anything. A child couldn’t understand what happened. So, in her mind the ambulance didn’t come on time, the doctors couldn’t save him, and nobody was there to help him. So she created this story. She didn’t have an awareness [of] where her anxiety was coming from. So, she thought in her subconscious mind that okay, COVID happened. Such a big thing. So, what if I passed out and nobody is able to save me? So, when I gave her the awareness of why her mind is doing this, then we dealt with her past story and past trauma because she never dealt with it and we dissipated it. We gave her the awareness that it’s happened in the past, but it’s not now. I gave her a recording to listen to for 21 days and I gave her some exercises to do, and now she totally gets it when it [her anxiety] kicks in. Okay, fine, it’s coming from my childhood trauma, but I am an adult now. I’m fine. If I pass out, somebody is there to help me. And there are many stories like this that anxiety has something to do with your past issue. Let’s say somebody’s having anxiety about I’m going to lose my job in COVID.

AB: Right.

BK: At some point either the father has lost the job or they have lost the job. There has been some threat. So, when it comes in, it’s ten times more magnified… that, oh, my God, this is going to happen to me. This is going to happen to me. So the mind is creating a story.

AB: And you used RTT to get to what it was, where the trauma was stored? Or what that trauma was…that childhood trauma?

BK: Exactly. So, where is it sitting? And we give them an understanding. Then we give the recording to literally give your brain new neuro paths, a new way to think about it and literally make you indifferent about that thought and your mind. We go and change your subconscious mind because that’s where you’re holding all your memories, habits and beliefs. So, we go and change it from there. But in RTT we find out where that belief is sitting. What happened? So, it becomes easier because people say, I’m doing all the exercises but I still get anxious. Fine, let’s dig deeper. Where is it really coming from? So, when we get that understanding, it actually, Anshu, really goes, it just dissipates.

AB: Wow. And tell me something, so if people were to stay in the present moment, then they’re not worrying about what is going to happen or what has happened. Is that another tool that you work with? 

BK: Yes. And I will explain that when you want. I can explain to you further what to do and how to do it and what’s happening.

AB: So, I’d love you to go into tools without me talking more. Just tell us about what tools people can use for various things. If you can give them a little routine, that would really be helpful.

BK: Yeah. So first let me explain to you about the present moment. So, what happens in the present moment? Let’s say you’re having this thought that, ‘I’m going to lose my job’. And then what’s going to happen? Everybody I speak to, they’re losing their job. So, the first is that you catch that thought. The reason my anxiety is flaring up is because I’m having this thought that I might lose my job. Then check it. Is it true? Has anybody told you at the workplace that you’re going to lose your job? Then maybe the answer will be no, you’re not going to. Okay fine, now change [your thoughts and say], ‘I’m fine, I’m secure, I’m going to be completely okay’. My mind is creating this problem. Or if it’s true, because you’ve been given notice, then what you say, okay, fine, what do I do about this? What steps do I need to take? Because worrying about this at 4 o’clock in the morning, you can’t deal with the problem, you can’t solve it. So, when you sit down with a pen and paper, thinking, okay fine, this is the money, how much money do I have in my savings? I might be out of a job for three months, so what do I do? Who do I need to apply to? What more do I need to do? And so you will proactively go into solution mode. And once you go into solution mode, you’re in the present moment. You can’t do new things, you can’t multitask, and you can’t be worried and solve the problem because when you’re not in the present moment, you’re worrying. So, the worry will not solve the problem. Worry will only make it magnified ten times and make you feel worse. So come into the present moment. People always ask me, how do I come into the present moment if I’m not looking for a solution? Look into your senses. So, look into all your five senses. The first thing I do is when my thoughts take over me, I start looking into my hand, and I start feeling the energy around my hand. So visually my senses are on. So, I’m looking at it and my eyes are wide and I’m looking at my hand and then I involve the feeling in it. How does it feel? I can feel the vibration. You’re straight away in the moment. Or look around the room. And another thing which is amazing is doing breathing exercises. Because when you breathe deeply, your stress receptors come on and literally the signal goes through the mind that the person is completely fine. They’re okay because they’re breathing deeply. So, when you’re breathing deeply, if you see a lion, you won’t go [demonstrating a sigh of relief/ breathing deeply from the lungs], you’ll breathe [heavily] from here [pointing at the lungs] because you’re scared. So, when you’re breathing deeply from your lungs, then your mind gets the signal that oh, she’s fine, she’s okay. You straight away calm down.

AB: So, you go into your parasympathetic nervous system.

BK: Yes, absolutely. So, you completely calm down and you say okay fine, you know what, it’s okay, there’s nothing wrong. Completely, everything is fine. So, your breathing is very good. But also, you need to have a certain way of routine in your life. So, make sure at this time you exercise. If you can’t go out, go for a run in the park, you can’t go run in the park, do exercise at home and make sure that you’re eating very healthy and you’re cooking your food and as soon as your thought starts to play up, I use the words: catch it, check it and change it. Keep changing it. It’s a practice. It’s an ongoing practice.

AB: Catch it, check it and change it.

BK: Yeah. So, catch the thought, catch a thought or worry. Check it. Is it really happening right now? Is it a real threat? Or am I really going to lose my job? Or am I really going through this in the present moment? And then change it. I’m fine, I’m okay, I’m secure, I’m strong, and I’m taking vitamin C, and vitamin D to keep my immune system healthy. I’m doing everything. So, where is the thought coming from? So, the problem is the thought. You need to keep catching your thought and changing your thought because the thought is creating this problem. If you keep changing your thought, keep doing these exercises and keep bringing yourself back to the present moment, the thought dissipates and you feel completely calm.

AB: Okay, but I’m going to ask you something now. So, we were talking about losing a job, right? And you’re saying catch it, check it, change it. What happens if you lost that job? So, what happens if that is the reason for your worries?

BK: Okay, fine.

AB: Or if someone got COVID, someone close to you got the disease, or you’ve got the disease…

BK: Let’s say, God forbid, I’ve got the disease, what am I going to do? I can’t worry at that moment because I’m looking for a solution. I’m saying, what do I need to eat? What do I need? What tablets do I need to take? Do I have to go to the doctor’s? Do I have to rest? You will go into solution [mode]. You will start saving yourself. You will not worry. Worry normally comes when something is going to happen. Like what if I have COVID, what will I do? ‘WHAT IF’ is the biggest anxiety. Because once you have it, you’ll be speaking to doctors, you are speaking to your friends who had it. You say, what do I need to do? And you’ll become very active with it. So, let’s say somebody has lost their job. So, when you lost the job, you say, fine, I’m going to look into my CV, update my CV, I’m going to apply for a job, for more jobs, I’m going to see what’s in my bank, how much should I spend, where do I cut down? You’re going to find a solution. 

AB: Okay.

BK: So go into the solution. And when you’re going to find a solution, you feel better. But when you’re not dealing with it, when you’re not working on it, that’s when you’re worrying, oh, I’ve got COVID, I’ve got COVID. Okay, get up. Do something about it. I’ve lost the job, I lost the job. The job will not come to you. The solution will not come from worrying. The solution will only come from being present and finding solutions. So become proactive and look into it and literally sit and do your accounts. How much money do I have? Where do I have to cut down? We all do that, right? When you are feeling anxious, say okay, you know what, maybe you’re going to save and say you know what, it’s okay, I have enough. Maybe I’m not getting income every day, but everybody is going through similar stuff. I can survive. Or if you can’t survive, look up to charities who can help. You will go into finding a solution.

AB: But what happens is sometimes, people around me have seen that and even me, sometimes when something happens, I get very overwhelmed. The logical thoughts— they’re not coming. You’re just saying, oh my God, oh my God, how am I going to cope?

BK: Yeah, you are doing that because you are not dealing with it. If you say to yourself, okay, one step at a time. You are overwhelmed, what can you do right now to solve this? Okay, right now I need to breathe deeply and first calm myself down because a worrying mind will not solve the problem. So how do I do that? Take deep breaths and say okay fine now where am I at? Okay, so this is what’s happened. Okay, fine. Now, let’s go into a solution. What should I do? Let me take one step at a time. I don’t have to climb the mountain. I have to just look down at where I have to go. I have to watch my steps. If you’re looking there [at the problem], obviously you will not solve the problem. So, try not to stay in the problem. Try and go into the solution. 

AB: Okay. And in terms of all the tools that you use, do you want to also give people maybe one or two small tools or an example of some of the tools you use, just so people get an idea of what it is that we’re talking about, like RTT and Access bars?

BK: Sure. RTT is some sort of hypnosis. So, we take a person into three scenes, which has everything to do with whatever pattern they have or whatever problem they have. Somebody says, you know what, I can’t make money, I keep losing my jobs or I can’t attract the right partner. I keep coming in and out of relationships. So, we go into RTT to find out exactly where and what damage took place. And we go into it. We find out, well, actually this is where you bring the belief. Because you make habits and habits make you, so then you say, fine, so this is what you’ve done and now you are habitually doing the same thing. So, then we break the pattern. We give a new suggestion to the mind. And then in the state of hypnosis… every day in the morning when we wake up, the first thing when we wake up, we are in a state of hypnosis. So, we ask you to listen to that recording first thing in the morning. So, start changing your subconscious. Because 5% of your mind is a conscious mind where your hopes and dreams are. 95% is where all your beliefs and your habits are sitting. So, that’s where we need to go and make the change. So, we are working with the subconscious. Now, what is Access bars? We have 32 meridian points in our brain, around our head. So, we go on to them, we touch and we move your energy field around. So, let’s say, you’re going through a corridor and you didn’t see the doors before. Now all of a sudden you will see doors, you will see doors opening and you will see a lot of possibilities opening for you which you couldn’t see before because your energy was stagnated, you were stuck. So, we open it up and we do that by moving your energy field around your mind and it’s literally like putting your finger on a delete button and removing all the programs that are not serving you and basically letting you be your own self, your true self to create from there and it’s an amazing modality. I had a client who couldn’t find a job for eight years. After Access bar, I think three weeks later she found a job. Then I had another client, who was suffering and she says, you know what, I’ve got issues that I won’t get a job, I won’t get a good boss and I will always have bad bosses. So, we ran her bars twice and literally she got a job— the ideal job she wanted. She was crowding herself with these thoughts so we removed them. For anxiety, so, I do our coaching as well. Let’s say when we have moved people, given them an understanding of what’s happening and now, we are moving you forward. So, once a week I do coaching. So we set goals, and we do accountability. Where are you going? Where is this going? And literally, I make sure that the whole thing is done. You’ve got what you wanted when you come to me. And then from there, I like to empower people— that don’t get dependent on therapy. Just understand what happened, and I give them all the tools in three months on how to go about and create whatever they want to create. And then once a month, maybe we put a call in, sometimes once in three months if you’re getting stuck somewhere. Because we all are human. My real motive is to get their power back.

AB: Fantastic. It’s fantastic that you don’t keep trying to get people back. You empower them and say go lead your life. 

BK: Absolutely. Because I also had a very struggling past and I felt that there was no one to help. It was too commercial. So yes, I have to pay my bills, but I also have a lot of love and compassion. I make it really personal that I want to help. I want to give them what they want and I’ve never had a problem where people have said, oh my god, I’ve become dependent on you.

AB: That’s fantastic. And do you want to just talk about a few tools? Something that people can use just to keep their mind happy…their mind and their heart happy and to stay away from anxiety. And things they can also use with their children. Kids of all kinds of age groups are being very badly affected by the situation.

BK: Absolutely. So first, if you’re having a panic attack and you are in that state, and I say, oh, think of this and do this and do that, you won’t do it because you’re having a panic attack. So at that time, the best thing is to do the tapping. And the third thing I would say, which is very important that when you are feeling it or getting anxious, check your thoughts. 

AB: Right…

BK: Check your thoughts. Because your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings create vibration. So, check your thoughts. What’s happening in the mind?  I’m feeling this anxiety. What am I thinking? So if you catch your thoughts saying like, oh, I’m thinking I’m doomed; nothing will work out for me; I will never be happy. Okay, so change the thought to: I’m fine, I’m secure, I’m happy. Always the best thing to do when you’re not feeling good is to check your thoughts. What is happening? If you start checking your thoughts because feelings are only created by thoughts, you can change them by watching your thoughts. And sometimes people are suffering from it. Especially kids. Give them a journal and say, you know what, when you’re feeling bad, write your thoughts. What are you thinking? Write your thoughts. And then when you’re writing them, on the other side, change them. Change the opposite. Kids will like this. Give them an activity to do. Write your thoughts. And then you will know, oh my God, I’m thinking so negatively. This is very important: to check your thoughts. Feelings are only coming from your thoughts. Change your thoughts. It will really change the reality in that present moment. And try to stay in the present moment. Whenever you feel you need fresh air, go for a walk. Look around and do mindful walking. Look at the trees around you. Look at the plants. Don’t stay in your thoughts. You could be in beautiful nature, but your mind could be sitting [idle thinking], you know what? This happened to me. That happened to me. People are so mean. People are talking about me. Just try and stay in the present moment. And in the present moment, nothing really exists.

AB: Lovely. That’s lovely Bushra. Is there any other tool you want to give people? Or is there any advice? So, you’ve told us about tapping. You’ve told us about catching your thoughts. And check and change.

BK: Catch it. Check it. Change it. And checking your thoughts is very important. I promise you, Anshu, they can take anything from it. Take one thing that checks your thoughts. But yes, when you are going through anxiety, if you catch yourself early enough, you will not go into anxiety. When you’re about to go into that feeling, I’m not feeling good, say one sec, stop, just stop yourself. What am I thinking? What rubbish am I thinking? Stop this thought. Where am I going with this thought? It’s only going to create more problems. But if you’re already in it, then you need to start tapping. You need to breathe and you need to literally distract yourself. But come in the present moment and use your five senses to see around you and say to yourself, be present. Be present.

AB: And you also said to use nature. So you said to use your senses, look at yourself, look around you and use nature.

BK: Yes, and to do mindful walking. So, if you’re having a bad day and you decide, okay, I’m going to go for walk, when you go for a walk, be very mindful of what you are seeing, not what you are thinking. Because then you are still in that cage of your thoughts. So try and be present and see what’s happening around you. Feel the grass. Look at the trees. Look at the dogs playing. Look at the kids playing. Try to be present. The more present you are, the better you will feel. And I promise you, if you start checking your thoughts, your anxiety will not kick in. 

AB: Lovely. Now Bushra, how do you keep your motivation? 

BK: How do you keep your motivation? You have to say, this is a pandemic. We are going through that. So that’s reality. Your expectation is motivation. So, bring your expectation down to reality. Right now we are going through this. Everybody is affected by it. So just you know, I have to take one step at a time and things will change. And when they change, then you know what, I will do what I need to do. But right now, I need to keep my head down above the water and just pass it through. And do your everyday exercises– your exercise, your meditation, your prayers, whatever that is. And stay positive. And you know what? Times will definitely change. Give it three to four months and then you know what? You can start motivating yourself. Get a coach and motivate yourself. But right now, just be realistic. Don’t have too much expectation because we are going through a pandemic. We are going through a real problem here. 

AB: Yeah. No, I agree. Also, someone else has said I have an anxiety disorder. Please tell me how to get out of it.

BK: So if you have an anxiety disorder, as I said, you have to find out why you have an anxiety disorder? That means you have a condition that is coming from some past trauma. So if you are vague about it, if you are not sure about it, then go and see the experts so they can give you an understanding of where it’s coming from. And understanding is power. So when you get this understanding, that’s where it’s coming from. So every time the anxiety kicks in, you will say okay fine, that was me before, this is me now, and you will start to disassociate with that memory. And you have to work on yourself. You have to practice that work every day in your life, and then it will go. It is something you have to work on. But you need to find out where is the anxiety coming from. Because if there is a pattern, if it’s a disorder, it’s coming from some limiting belief that you’ve not dealt with. So, you need to deal with that limiting belief and find out.

AB: Okay, lovely. Thank you. Bushra. That was lovely. Thank you for the session.

BK: Thank you so much, Anshu. And lots of love and bye-bye. Take care. 

AB: Bye, bye.

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