Anyone experiencing anxiety lately . . . ? Congratulations, you’re human. The good news is you’re definitely not alone.
Studies show that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US affecting 1 in 5 people every year and that 1 in 3 will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Things like pandemics can lead to higher feelings of stress and anxiety, which can impact sleep, diet, and overall well-being.
In this episode, Ryan and GMB Trainer Jenn Pilotti discuss how feelings of stress and anxiety influence you physically and how exercise and movement practices can influence feelings of stress and anxiety. Learn how anxiety is influenced by interoception (internal sense of self), and why learning new movements is good for your brain.
Ryan: [00:00:00] Hey, everybody hope you’re doing well. Welcome to the Game Meat on the Barbecue Podcast, where we’ll be discussing all of your game meats. Of course, I’m just kidding. Welcome everybody to the podcast. Today I am here with Jenn Pilotti. Love having you on here. How are you doing? I’m Ryan, by the way, for those of you who don’t know, if this your first time listening to the, the Game Meat on the Barbecue Podcast, how you doing today?
Jenn: [00:00:29] Great. Thank you so much for having me, Ryan.
Ryan: [00:00:31] Thank you. We are actually going to be talking about something, pretty serious topic. I’m sure that we can have fun with it though. And we’re really going to be talking about anxiety and in particular some anxiety disorders and what you can actually do to help with that.
Just read a little bit here. Anxiety disorders, some of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. Affecting one out of five people every year. And one in three will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. So that’s some pretty serious stuff right there. Obviously things right now.
I’m not sure, for our listeners, if they’re aware of this, but there’s this thing happening in the world called Corona. COVID a little pandemic. Of course, things like this are going to lead to some higher feelings of anxiety and stress, even if you don’t know. And so this is, what’s very interesting is that now, as we just said, one out of every five people every year are going to have these disorders and this is the time for this to really happen, with everything that’s going on in the world. Today, what we’re wanting to do is we’re going to talk a little bit about how learning new movements are going to be good for your brain and how they can help you. We’re not trying to say that this will fix anything.
We’re not trying to be doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists here. Okay. We’re just simply trying to offer you some examples of what the both of us have found to help people in order to help with anxiety, giving some practical examples, using some of the movements and programs that we have here in GMB.
Alright, so let’s get started with this. So Jenn, if you want to go ahead and jump into this and let’s talk a little bit about really, the nature of anxiety. Okay. And what’s going on and how we can start using some of these skills that we have to help people move past that, or at least, gain better control over what’s going on with, if they do have anxiety.
Jenn: [00:02:40] Well, one of the things that happens with anxiety is it’s almost like a mismatch between what’s happening in your body and your interpretation of what that means. So for instance, if I am sitting here chatting with you and I feel my heart rate elevate, I could think to myself, ‘Oh, interesting. I’m a little nervous.’
Or I could think to myself, ‘Oh my God, I’m having a heart attack.’ So yeah, how we interpret these situations can really make a big difference in how we perceive the world around us. And it’s the same with a lot of our internal cues. Like even, I think I’ve used it before, but if I’m hungry and I don’t realize that I’m hungry and I’m suddenly getting a little angry or grumpy, like that’s a mismatch of what’s happening internally and how I’m experiencing that.
Ryan: [00:03:29] Getting hangry. Yeah. Yeah. That one’s for you, Amber, if you’re listening.
Jenn: [00:03:37] Anxiety is so tied up with, again, our sensation of our breath and our sensation of our heart rate and what’s going on there . It all plays together the mind and the body. So that’s where we can go with it from a physical perspective.
Ryan: [00:03:50] Yeah, absolutely. And obviously things like this, if you look back, what we were made for this is obviously to protect us. The only thing is now in current world, a lot of the things that we perceive as threats per se, aren’t actually what our body was made for. And so there’s a lot of different things happening and that we encounter during the day. Just before the podcast, you and I were discussing, emails and how, not necessarily a threat per se, but you can look at this stressing you out, if you will, by having so many emails. Maybe what someone said to you on a comment in a particular video or something, and how we interpret that, looking at the pace of our breath, quickening, and everything else that happens with that, can lead to greater anxiety and a stress that just simply builds up over time.
Anxiety in Movement Practice
Ryan: [00:04:42] So how can we really look at, in terms of a movement practice, and move into the topic of, I do know that some people actually find that they do stress out, even when they’re using movements. For example, they get into a new movement. We see this quite a lot, especially with people thinking that they should be able to perform a movement and then putting pressure on themselves in thinking that, therefore leading to stress, therefore not enjoying the movement.
So what are some things and really what’s going on with that as well that we can look at in order to help us to move beyond the point where we feel that we should have something or basically try and focus on moving past that point where we are giving ourself pressure with that movement.
Jenn: [00:05:32] Yes. So I find performance anxiety in a movement practice fascinating, because I think when you have performance anxiety around your movement practice, maybe you’re approaching it, maybe your Why is from a different perspective than what would be perhaps more fulfilling. So I think from like just a pure philosophical standpoint, like stepping back and asking yourself, ‘If this is stressing me out and I’m not enjoying it, then why am I doing it?’
Because at the end of the day, we all only have so much time. And if we’re spending our time doing something that we don’t enjoy, what’s the point?
Ryan: [00:06:09] Exactly. Right there with you. Yes. Thank you for bringing that up. No, I think that’s so good. And I don’t really want to dive too deep into this, but example to what we were talking about earlier in terms of, social media related things in thinking, okay, you should look a particular way.
You should be able to do a certain thing. Other things just being shoved down our throat and therefore, us thinking that we should be doing something when in fact, it would behoove us to actually take a step back and really say, okay, why am I doing this? And for what purpose? How is this actually benefiting me rather than me just trying to do it for the sake that I think I should be doing it because someone told me, yes. Looking at your Why I think is really the big thing. And like we like to say GMB, you got to have fun with it. And the fun part of it, if you really kind of get too serious about things, unless it’s your job, like let’s say you have to perform for a particular thing.
That’s different topic, but. We get to do this. Okay. we get to do this. It’s a hobby. Let’s just be honest, movement, things like that. I mean, you and I, of course, this is our job, but what I’m saying is for those of you listening out there, if you’re not getting paid to perform, then let’s try and just enjoy the stuff that we’re doing and try and move away from putting this extra pressure on us.
Cause we already have enough pressure on us, in life with everything that’s going on. Let’s talk about, move the topic now a little bit and talk about interoception. I’m sure I said that incorrectly. I always do. You always throw these words at me? Interoception and then autoregulation so autoregulation and looking at how we can approach and use this concept. We talked about this a lot in GMB before, but I’m always interested to hear your thoughts and how you’re using this to help your clients.
Jenn: [00:07:54] I think autoregulation is huge. So interoception is simply what I talked about earlier. It’s just your internal sense of what’s going on with you. So it’s your breath, it’s your heart rate.
It’s you know, if your gut feels a little off, all of those things are interoceptive senses. From an autoregulation standpoint, if you can feel,’ Oh, I’m breathing faster than I normally do,’ or, ‘Oh, I’m holding my breath when I go up into a handstand’ or whatever it is that you’re trying, then you can step back and say, what do I need to do so that I don’t do that.
And that is such a key, I think, aspect to having a long-term movement practice. It goes back to how can you make it sustainable? How can you make it fun, it is your hobby. So that’s how I use all those things.
Specific Tips for Monitoring Anxiety
Ryan: [00:08:43] So I’m really interested in some specifics, if you can. I have my particular quirks, perfectly, there were things that I do that I know where I can bring myself down immediately in order to get into particular states. what about yourself? What are some things personally that you use and also some things that you found that maybe that you don’t use, that maybe you use with some of your clients.
Jenn: [00:09:06] I think one of the key ones for me is definitely breathing. So if I can feel that I’ve switched to mouth breathing, for instance, then I will step back and say, what can I do to make this so it feels more sustainable so I can breathe in and out my nose because that’s frequently down-regulates me and makes me more able to do whatever it is that I’m trying to do.
The next one I always check for is where am I holding excess tension. So that is, I don’t, if anybody out here has ever done a body scan or practiced any of those types of meditation techniques, they can be really useful just in your movement practice, because if you can feel, ‘Oh my goodness, I am totally gripping my right pinky finger like as hard as I possibly can when I’m doing the single leg thing’ and you can shake that off and let that go. It makes that single leg thing so much better.
Ryan: [00:09:56] And that’s really tough to do if you’re not aware, right? If you’re constantly, thinking about the next thing, and you’re not really aware of what’s going on while you’re performing that particular movement, you’ll miss that.And but again, it all starts with the breath, in the beginning and yes, anything else there? That really just the big two there. Yeah.
Jenn: [00:10:15] Those are my two big ones. And I guess my other, I guess the third one is probably, ‘Where am I grounded?’ I always ask myself that, ‘Where am I grounded?’
What’s my grounding point, because that does seem to anchor me more again in the present moment.
Ryan: [00:10:27] Sure. I will say something that I do that has really, really helped me and this is not just within my movement practice, but this in my life. And I actually have this on my home screen on my phone and maybe I can show you. It’s kind of hard to see where is it right there. But, I just, yeah, so I just have a white, for those of you listening I know you can’t really see what I’m talking about, but on my phone, I don’t have, you can’t see any apps, no photos. It’s just a white screen with big text that says ‘Pause.’ And so anytime that I start to feel something that might, that I know that my stress me out, for example, those emails or, even when I wake up immediately in the morning, I pause and that pause for me is really to get me to say, ‘Okay, do I really need to do this right now? Or is it just something that I feel that I want to do?’
But typically those sorts of things are going to lead to stress. Like for example, checking my emails first thing in the morning, Instagram, whatever. Movement for me is the same thing and started to hijack what you’re doing there. But. But like you mentioned the handstand. So this is something that I really like to use myself, and I kinda tell people to do this, but I never really said the word ‘pause,’ but basically you see people like they’ll do a handstand and they fall out of it and try and kick right back up into it without taking a second to say, ‘Okay, what do I need to do in order to make sure this next attempt is going to work out?’ Or even just simply giving themselves a break. So that’s why I like to use ‘pause,’ like just, okay. Let’s just pause for a second and just take a breath and then we can do it. So that’s something related exactly to what you were saying that I found that just really helps me, especially recently.
Yeah, yeah. All right, so. Talking about, especially the autoregulation and autoregulation too. Please. If you’re new to what we’re saying here, if you haven’t really heard of autoregulation, it just simply means, listening to your body and just because you’re your workout that day says that you should be doing a high intensity workout doesn’t necessarily mean that should be, that would be good for you that day.
Make adjustments and understand that we’re playing the long game. It’s not, ‘You got to get it today.’ And so really check in with your body, listen to your breathing and, focus on what’s going on in your body just like you said there Jenn. Cool. By the way, if you do have any questions or some particular topics that you want us to talk about on the podcast, be sure to join us over on the Facebook group, also in the Alpha, questions from Alpha.
All these questions that we have come from there and we will focus on answering your questions on the show. By the way, this is not a passive sort of thing. We do want your feedback, so only join if you want to participate in the group. Okay. It’s a group effort here. All right. So let’s talk a little bit about practical application of what we’re doing here.
Learning New Skills
Ryan: [00:13:31] And I mentioned a little bit about taking that pause, before going up in the handstand, but let’s actually look at learning new skills. And I like to hear you, learn us good about, some things that we can do when we’re looking at new skills in order to keep ourselves from becoming anxious or letting it stress us out.
Jenn: [00:13:54] I think one of the main things is to, again, let go of what you think you should be doing and meet yourself where you are. So if we can stick with the handstand example, if your goal is to do a handstand, but you haven’t been on your wrists in five years and you’ve been working at a computer, then give yourself permission to take the time to get the wrist mobility and the wrist strength and work on some of the more basic quadrupedal movements or the more basic, Elements types movements to start to build the necessary strength so that when you actually go to work towards the handstand, you’re more successful.
Right? You build, you meet yourself where you are and you find your building blocks and that makes everything so much better. And then you’re surprised when you go to try the thing and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness. I actually got really close.’
Ryan: [00:14:40] That’s cool. And so basically you’re setting yourself up for a win.
Jenn: [00:14:45] Right.
Ryan: [00:14:46] And yeah, exactly. And I like what you said there, you’re surprised when you are able to get it. I’ve always been of the notion and I was very lucky to have in my gymnastics coach, a coach that said, ‘Hey, listen, if you just focus on where you should be and just keep doing that it’s going to happen naturally.’
You know? And so that’s why he’s always like, ‘You can get any skill you want.’ He says, ‘You just need to actually start again, be aware of where you need to start and just put in the work and over time, you’re actually going to get that.’ And I think that’s a very cool thing.
Learning new skills though. So let’s say for example, we’ve got Mobius, one of our programs Mobius, Elements, Vitamin and Vitamin actually might be a very good example that we can talk about because in Vitamin you’re actually learning, if you will, or actually exploring a new movement every single day. And so going into something like that, what are your thoughts on how that can actually help a person. What are some of the things that we should be thinking about?
You said, allowing yourself to think a particular way, but what are some other, habits, if you will, that we can use within this movement practice that can also carry over into our other things that we’re doing in our life in order to help us to be open to new challenges and also understand how to face challenges when those challenges happen.
Jenn: [00:16:10] Yes. I think there’s a few things. And first is actually the autoregulation like learning to auto-regulate in your movement. Practice has so much carry over for your everyday life. It is amazing how just that can have a profound impact on your overall wellbeing. So there’s definitely that, but then also when you see something don’t automatically think, ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’ This is the reverse of what we were saying, because sometimes you look at something and you’re like, I”ll never be able to do that,’ but that mindset isn’t the growth mindset. Right? That’s the fixed mindset.
And if you instead think, ‘Oh, this is cool. I can totally work with this and work towards it.’ Then you’re changing your overall outlook about your ability to learn and that mindset. Again, you can take that with you throughout everything that you do. So I think those are the two main things, especially with a program like Vitamin, which some of those moves the first time I saw them, I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness. I don’t know. I’m not a b-boy person, but– .’
Ryan: [00:17:13] That’s just the thing, I was actually, while you were talking. And as soon as you said that I was looking on, grab my phone real quick to look at your Instagram because I was like, there’s a guy and I didn’t want to say his name incorrectly. You know how bad I am at pronouncing things.
But, Kanti. Okay. So he’s 70 something years old and the guy’s just amazing. He’s been doing GMB for quite a while. He’s in his seventies, as I just mentioned. And just yesterday he posted a video and he’s now working on the plache and just so cool. And posted some videos of what he was doing. And he showed where he was, the progressions that he was using for it.
And, I posted on there. I was like, ‘ Great, this is really good to see.’ And then he replied back and he says, ‘I hope I can do it someday.’ My reply was, ‘Hey, you’re doing it!’ You know? And so just what you were saying, and it’s that growth mindset and where these outside influencers can actually say, okay, this is the end point and you haven’t got it or you haven’t achieved it, pardon me, until you’re at a certain point, but I believe that if you’re working on it right now, you are doing it per se.
And so what you just said, that growth mindset and just looking at it with that open mind and saying, ‘Okay, today, this is where I am and that’s awesome,’ and letting go of thinking, ‘Okay, I need to be at a certain level or I’m not there yet.’ Again, like what we were just talking about, autoregulation, putting in the time, if that’s what you want to get, then you’re going to get it. yeah, sorry. I just got a little excited there because I was just like, yeah, preach it, Jenn, preach it.
So. Let’s take a look now. And, again, I want to come back to autoregulation just quickly again. When you mentioned, no, you think that’s one of the major factors in that, so like for you to dive just a little bit deeper into that, everyone’s heard my take on autoregulation, but really if you could go a little bit deeper and saying, okay, how can I really take autoregulation and apply it?
What are some, maybe one or two things that we can focus on in using that autoregulation that again, it’s not just going to apply to our skill work that we’re doing, but also the carry over to our life. So practical like this and this.
Jenn: [00:19:28] So I guess one of the main things is, again, noticing when you get stressed in your movement practice and figuring out how to renegotiate that stress so that it’s not stress. Because again, that is just a very practical skill to have. And it’s really interesting because I do think part of that is having a lot of awareness, not just of your body, but it’s your body and your emotional state right? And how they play together.
And it’s crazy because sometimes in your everyday life, the first clue that you’ll have that you’re stressed, isn’t how you’re feeling emotionally, but it’s your body. So being able to notice it in your movement practice, and again, talk yourself down or rework it is going to carry right over into whatever it is that you’re doing in your life that causes you anxiety or triggers you or whatever the word is that you want to use. So I think that’s probably the biggest one.
Ryan: [00:20:22] Yeah, that’s really good. I, again, that awareness and I like the fact that he, a lot of people, when they talk about awareness, we’re thinking it as that mental side of things. Whereas if you aren’t open to what’s going on in your body and you actually don’t know what’s going on in your body, that can be difficult to read.
It reminds me of the time where after my shoulder surgery, and being in a sling for so long. I remember I got the sling and I went through my rehab and I was “good to go,” quote, unquote. Okay. And then I realized one morning when I was pouring coffee, that rather than moving my arm, I was tilting my body to the side because that had become my habit because my arm was in this sling. So I think then there, you can, learn from that as well in terms of awareness is simply taking a look at what’s going on in your body, with fresh eyes. I think is maybe another way to look at it. Very cool.
So one other question I have for you, how does this influence how you feel directly after getting a skill for the first time? And so it reminds me of coming back to where a person says, I really want six pack abs and I’m like, that’s really cool. Okay. But what happens after you get those six pack abs? So like really. I think this question, a pretty deep question, but I think it’s kinda cool, but ah, how does this influence how you feel directly after you’re getting that skill for the first time?
Jenn: [00:21:57] Well, when I first get a skill for the first time, suddenly it shows up in everything. I can do this! I’m going to put it in.
Ryan: [00:22:05] Going to put it over here and here let’s work on this. Yeah.
Jenn: [00:22:08] This has no relevance. I’m gonna put it right here.
Ryan: [00:22:13] There you go. Just like a six pack. Abs you just go around showing everyone right. And say, yeah.
Jenn: [00:22:19] No, but in all seriousness, I think it’s interesting because I know for me, I get really, really excited, which it involves lots of jumping up and down clapping, but then it’s cool, cool. What can I do next? Right?
Because if I accomplished one thing and this is the fun thing about actually accomplishing something, and that’s why I think it’s so important to meet yourself where you are. If you actually meet your goal or you meet what you set out to do, then it’s great. Even if it took you a year or two years, it’s like, great. I can do something else if I want to. So what’s the next thing?
Ryan: [00:22:53] No, exactly. That’s so cool. And that’s what I love too. There really isn’t that end point. but again, coming back to what you just said is like meeting yourself where you are. And I think also a big thing is setting up realistic goals, that a lot of people tend not to do, and I want to get this particular skill in a month and I’m like, ‘Well, sorry. Okay, let me just be honest with you. That’s probably not going to happen, but this is something that’s very, very achievable for you to get, let’s do that. And then that can be that win, and you just build on top of that.’
So that’s cool, moving forward. All right. Covered cover quite a bit here and we could keep talking forever and forever, but basically looking at anxiety right. And stress. And some things that we did talk about really are just autoregulation. I think is just a real key factor here in the talk today that we’re after and looking at. Okay. Where are you today? And let’s just be really realistic. You might want to go and crush a workout, but is that really good for you today?
There might be something else going on doesn’t mean that you can’t, or you maybe shouldn’t do a workout. I’m not saying that it’s just taking a look and saying, okay, what am I capable of today with mentally and physically, and then doing that. And then also understanding that. Something else I want to say about that too, is just because you’re not able to do something that day doesn’t make you a bad person. I want to be very clear with that. And I think a lot of people put stress on themselves thinking, ‘Oh, I didn’t crush that workout today. Therefore I have failed.’
My personal belief is what did you learn out of that particular session? Okay. If you could learn something from that session. Great. That means that you’re moving towards your goal and it’s going to happen with practice. And looking at particular new movements and new challenges, that you brought up before, and in terms of some of the movements, excuse me, some of the programs we have, whether it be Mobius or Vitamin, where you have a new movement, every single day.
This I love because it allows you to start training and getting better at being open to these challenges if you will. And so you’re preparing yourself and you’re building up this resiliency, if you will, to be able to handle, other pressures, other stresses. When you look at it as having fun, which you mentioned, so you’re creating that sense of success, by doing that. The other cool thing, you’re going to be improving your strength, flexibility, and control, and, hey, that means you’re going to be getting better at everything. So you’re going to get those six pack ads. Cause that’s what it’s about, right? Yeah, absolutely. Anything else to add there?
Jenn: [00:25:42] No, I think that was all a very nice little synopsis.
Ryan: [00:25:47] All right. Oh, I’ll tell you what I love chatting with you. You know, we gotta have somebody smart on the podcast, so I’m glad to bring you in out here. Thanks again for listening everyone. And yeah, once again, please, if you have any questions, for Jenn, for me, none for Andy, we don’t want that guy to talk, but if you have any questions, please, please, join the group. Participate in there. Again, thanks for listening. Everybody stay safe. Bye-bye.
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