The COVID-19 pandemic has been a perilous global moment that has indelibly changed all our lives. As we approach the one-year anniversary of societal shut-down, I find it opportune to reflect on how we are reacting, responding and adapting to it—for better or worse.
In other words: How is your anxiety level? What habits, good or bad, have you formed in these past 12 months to cope with the insanity and uncertainty of having life upended and placed on indefinite hold? And most importantly—how are these habits serving or not serving you?
I posit these questions as context for today’s conversation with my friend Dr. Jud Brewer—a psychiatrist and neuroscientist specializing in habit change who has extensively studied anxiety, and what science tells us about how we can break the cycle of fear and worry that affect all of us to some degree or another.
Dr. Jud is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center, a research affiliate at MIT, and an associate professor in Behavioral and Social Sciences and Psychiatry at the Schools of Public Health & Medicine at Brown University. You might have stumbled upon his TED talk, A simple way to break a bad habit (which has racked in 16+ millions of views) or caught him on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper. He’s also been featured in TIME magazine, NPR, Forbes and many other places.
“The key component in the process of unwinding anxiety is learning to be curious.”
– JUD BREWER M.D., Ph.D.
Our previous conversation (RRP 471) focused on addiction and how mindfulness can help us break bad habits. Today we extend that exploration to Dr. Jud’s latest book Unwinding Anxiety—an evidence-based primer on understanding what causes everything from mild unease to full-blown panic, the relationship between anxiety and addiction, and the many ways we can actually train our minds to feel, perform and live better.
This exchange provides actionable steps to help you uproot stress. Break habit loops. And end the cycle of fear-based decision-making. Most importantly perhaps, you will learn how to identify your triggers in order to respond mindfully rather than react impulsively.
Dr. Jud is among the very best and brightest at the intersection of neuroscience and habit change—and given that hundreds of millions of people suffer from anxiety, my hope and instinct is that you will find this conversation quite useful.
The visually inclined can watch our exchange on YouTube. And as always, the podcast streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
May Dr. Jud’s words serve, soothe, and inspire.
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- Dr. Jud Brewer: Website | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
- Book: Unwinding Anxiety
- Program: Craving to Quit
- Program: Unwinding Anxiety
- 60 Minutes: Anderson Cooper on Mindfulness & Anxiety
- TED: A simple way to break a bad habit | Judson Brewer
- New York Times: Break the coronavirus anxiety cycle
- The Wall Street Journal: New Strategies for Calming Your Pandemic Anxiety
- NPR: How To Get Your Thinking Brain Back Online
- Harvard Business Review: Are You Stuck in the Anxiety-Distraction Feedback Loop?
- NPR: When The Headlines Won’t Stop, Here’s How To Cope With Anxiety
- Psychiatry Advisor: Anxiety in the Time of COVID-19: Q&A With Dr Jud Brewer
- Elemental: An Easy Breathing Exercise for When Worry Takes Over
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