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In Praise of Anxiety. How to enter the virtuous cycle of anxiety from the vicious cycle.

Dr Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, Anxiety researcher & author, founder of Wise Therapeutics, psychology and neuroscience Professor.

Dr Dennis-Tiwary is in praise of anxiety and joined us on episode #107 of the Thriving Minds podcast to tell us all about its benefits.

Dr Dennis-Tiwary has spent 20 years researching the causes of anxiety and examining new treatments possible treatments. Anxious people tend to have a selective and exaggerated attention to threat. Her lab has recently shown that it is possible to reduce anxiety by helping an anxious person retrain their attention away from threat by using a computer program called attention bias modification training. The technique aims to reduce the brain’s bias to focus on threats over pleasure and happiness. Often, we are not aware of what that the brain has become tuned to focus on threats at a greater speed than pleasure. Tracy teaches people how to sit with the bad feelings that accompany anxiety by trying to listen to what it is telling us, leverage from the knowledge to understanding to find new solutions and then let go. For example, if you wake in the middle of the night, worried about something that happened during the day. Instead of lying awake and ruminating on these thoughts until they become catastrophic.

Take a deep breath, listen to what the thoughts are, sit with the feeling, and then leverage from them. What are they telling you? For example, you may have not finished a task that needs completing or ignored someone that needs your attention. Try, coming back to the present tense and let go of these thoughts and take action on what they are teaching you. Dr Dennis-Tiwary insights offer a new lens about how to think about anxiety. Imagine leveraging anxiety to find a new approach to solve the underlying problems causing the anxious feelings.


CAPTION FROM EUREKA ALERT AND PAPER Pine and Bar-Haim are using functional brain imaging in studies of a computer-based training method, called attention bias modification (ABM), that helps people learn to shift their attention away from preoccupying stimuli. For example, when performing a task that required matching angry or neutral faces to locations where they briefly flashed on a computer monitor, people with anxiety disorders typically showed faster reaction times to angry faces, signaling biased attention toward threat. In the training, their attention was repeatedly diverted to matching locations of neutral faces only. The researchers propose that offering soldiers a similar preventive intervention prior to deployment might help correct attention biases and reduce the risk of developing PTSD.

CREDIT Daniel Pine, MD, NIMH Emotion and Development Branch From Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary website:

Tracy A. Dennis-Tiwary, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology and neuroscience, Director of the Emotion Regulation Lab, and Co-Executive Director of the Center for Health Technology at Hunter College, where the mission is to connect researchers, community stakeholders, and technology innovators to bridge the healthcare gap. As Founder and CSO of Wise Therapeutics, she translates neuroscience and cognitive therapy techniques into gamified, clinically validated digital therapeutics for mental health. She has published over 100 scientific articles and delivered over 400 presentations at academic conferences and for corporate clients. She has been featured throughout the media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, The Today Show, and Bloomberg Television.

Future Tense: Why Anxiety is Good For You (Even Though it Feels Bad)

Future Tense argues for the radical idea that anxiety is a feature of being human, not a bug. When we tap into our anxiety instead of attack it like an illness, we realize that human anxiety evolved to not only be protective, but to build our creative capacity to be productive. Anxiety achieves this by making us into time travelers, propelling us into future thinking, where we are smarter, more focused, and more hopeful in the face of challenge. This book details how – and why – we should adopt a new mindset about anxiety – a fresh set of beliefs and insights that allow us to use anxiety as information so we can leverage it rather than be overwhelmed by it. I share real-world examples and stories combined with the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, genetics, biology, and sociology. This book celebrates the lives of people who are using anxiety to their advantage and with the goal of making the world a better place. The best solutions in the world won’t stick if our view of anxiety unintentionally accelerates it.

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