Mar 16, 2021
One pragmatic practice is to separate out the worry from the
thinking. Fear plus uncertainty equals anxiety but uncertainty can
also move us into a growth mindset. When there's a lot of
uncertainty and we're really feeling down on our luck or really
stressed out because of our finances; in those moments when we're
really worried, take a deep breath, step back and ask yourself if
this worrying is helping? Because worrying makes our thinking brain
go offline. What do we need to help us move forward? We need our
thinking brain. - Dr. Jud Brewer
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Wellness Force Radio Episode 388
Internationally known expert in mindfulness training for
treating addictions, Executive Medical Director of Behavioral
Health at Sharecare, and Author of his latest book,
Unwinding Anxiety, Dr.
Jud Brewer, returns to explain how worry and anxiety become
habits, why we become addicted to stress, and practical strategies
to navigate uncertainty.
What do we do with our
anxiety? How can loving
it, breathing it, and meditating with it transcend our mental
Listen and discover the
new science of breaking the worry and the fear to heal your
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Listen To Episode 388 As Dr. Jud
[1:30] How Worry & Anxiety Become Habits
[11:30] The Source Of Modern Anxiety
- Exploring what the source of anxiety actually is for people in
our modern-day society.
- Why fear-based learning is a survival mechanism that humans
have wired in their brains.
- The fact that our cell phones are weapons of mass distraction and
- Breaking down how anxiety is the combination of worry and
- What happens to our thought process when we don’t have
certainty in a situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Exploring why our previous anti-anxiety or anti-habit
strategies have failed in the past.
- How the brain is wired to create and follow habits that free up
space for it to do other things.
- The learning strategy that is set up along with the process of
building habit memory.
- How a reward hierarchy is created
based on the habits we learn.
- The importance of checking in with ourselves to see if those
habits are still rewarding to ensure we actually benefit from
- What negative prediction error is and
why it happens when there’s a deviation from what we expect
[19:30] Unwinding Anxiety
- How you can unwind anxiety from specific,
delayed gratification by finding out what is driving those
- Why working on anxiety helped one of his clients effortlessly
lose 100 pounds because he stopped stress eating.
- Exploring the fact that there really isn’t any real evidence
that willpower exists.
- How to practice delayed gratification to help
you build good habits.
- 129 Gretchen Rubin
- Making sense of the connection between addiction and anxiety in order
to let go of both and heal.
- Eric Kandel
- Breaking down our individual perceptions, illusions, levels of
awareness, and the confrontation
one must go through during the inner work.
[31:30] Are You Addicted To Your Own Stress?
- How to transcend addiction, anxiety, and depression so that they no
longer rule us anymore.
- Unpacking the question, “Which mind states are more
- Exploring how contracted and closed down people felt with each
different mind state compared to feeling more
open and expanded.
- Why adults who are addicted to their own stress hormones were once
children who lived in unpredictable environments of overreaction,
rage spirals, and fear.
- How Josh’s addiction to stress has impacted his life as an
entrepreneur, his new life in Austin, and now with a baby on the
- What steps to take to know if you are addicted to your own stress and
then how to break free from it.
- Why it can feel strange once you break free from anxiety and no
longer have anxious thoughts.
- Carol Dweck
- The difference between growth vs fixed mindset when it comes to new
changes in your life.
- How you can become comfortable with the uncomfortable as you
enter the growth zone.
[40:00] How To Handle Worry & Stress
- What steps you can take if you’re worried about the “next bad
thing” that’s going to happen to you.
- The power of changing our mindset and how we look at our
- How we use worry as a control mechanism of our lives
to help us but it actually goes against our brain’s ability to work
- Why anxiety and bad habits can be teaching tools
for greater awareness and how to
properly use them.
- Michael Pollan
- What happens to the body and mind when we are actually
experiencing stress in the present moment.
- His research of the default mode network and
exploring one of the hypotheses out there that this network syncs
us with action.
- The idea out there that conscious awareness might happen a full
half-second after our motor action does something.
- Exploring the contraction and expansion of self when we let go
of stress or feel positive emotions such as
[49:00] Practical Strategies To Navigate Uncertainty
Power Quotes From The
How The Brain Builds New Habits
"Remember our old brain is set up to help us survive. In
addition to reward based learning it has another trick up his
sleeve. It takes what it learns and moves the learning into muscle
memory as soon as it can. In other words, our brains are set up to
form habits so we can free up brain space to learn new
things." - Unwinding Anxiety by Dr. Jud
Why Worry Can Be A Powerful Teacher
"Inevitably life goes on and things are constantly changing and
we have no control over the future. So, those feelings of
uncertainty and wondering when the shoe is going to drop have been
described as ways that make us feel like we're in control because
at least we're doing something about it by worrying. However,
worrying doesn't help and it actually makes our brain work less
well. Try to see anything that isn't going well or isn't perfect as
a learning experience. When your anxiety comes back up, what can
you learn from it? If you lean into your hardships and challenges
to get something out of them, they can actually be quite rewarding
in the sense that you've grown and become more resilient."
- Dr. Jud Brewer
Moving Into A Growth Mindset
"What do we need to do in today's age? We need to be able to
think beyond our narrow sense because the world has changed a lot.
It has had this seismic shift that's never going to go back and we
don't even know what that's going to look like. So, ask yourself,
what I am I getting from worrying? See if you can step out of the
worry and lean into that challenge. I'm not saying this is easy but
I'm saying this is what we can do, right? Lean into this and ask
yourself how you can move into your growth mindset and what's
possible for you right now." - Dr. Jud
Links From Today's
About Dr. Jud Brewer
is the Executive
Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Sharecare, Director of
Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center, and associate
professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown
University, as well as a research affiliate at MIT. Before that, he
held research and teaching positions at Yale University and the
University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness. Read more
As an addiction psychiatrist and internationally known expert
in mindfulness training for treating addictions, Dr. Jud has
developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change,
including both in-person and app-based treatments for smoking,
emotional eating, and anxiety (Eat Right
, Unwinding Anxiety
Craving to Quit
Based on the success of these programs in the lab, he
co-founded MindSciences, Inc.
create app-based digital therapeutic versions of these programs for
a wider audience, working with individuals, corporations, and
hospital systems to put effective, evidence-based behavior change
guidance in the hands of people struggling with unwanted behaviors
and “everyday addictions.”
Modern Science, Ancient Wisdom
Dr. Jud has also studied the underlying neural mechanisms of
mindfulness using standard and real-time fMRI and EEG
neurofeedback, adding to the understanding of the brain’s “Default
Mode Network” and the role of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC)
in self-referential thinking. He regularly gives talks on the
intersection of modern science and ancient meditative practices,
helping to expose a modern audience to specific techniques and
insights first discovered 2,500 years ago.
He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book
chapters, trained US Olympic coaches, and his work has been
featured on 60 Minutes, TED (4th most viewed talk of 2016, with 10+
Million views), Time magazine (top 100 new health discoveries of
2013), Forbes, BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera (documentary about his
research), Businessweek and others.
His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health
and American Heart Association, among others.
He is the author of The Craving Mind: from cigarettes to
smartphones to love, why we get hooked and how we can break bad
habits (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).
Dr. Jud and his wife Mahri live in Massachusetts where they
enjoy biking, hiking, and meditating with their two cats, Ananda
and Julian of Norwich.
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