Episode 80 | Julian Brass | Own Your Anxiety

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Chances are good that you, or someone you know, is dealing with anxiety. One in five Americans over 18, and one in three teenagers 13 to 18, reported having a chronic anxiety disorder during the past year.  

Now, everyone worries sometimes. And, every person experiences anxiety at one point or another. If you have too many emails, if you get stuck in traffic, if you get in a fight with your friend, it can cause anxiety. But if you’re repeatedly feeling panicky, or anxious, or find yourself avoiding situations because of irrational fears, then you’re going to want to listen to today’s NEW podcast episode with Own Your Anxiety author, Julian Brass.

Having anxiety is like being trapped in your own personal nightmare. And believe me, I’ve been there. Before I used to get on stage, I would experience gut tension, a rapid heartbeat, perspiration, and every moment leading up to stepping on stage would feel crushing and exhausting. Having this kind of anxiety was destroying my confidence. I tried everything from high-intensity workouts to yoga, meditation, and visualization. And all of that helped. But I turned the corner when I finally came to terms with how to change my thoughts, and I was able to get back to my normal self… even in stressful situations.

Since I like to say “yes” to life’s adventures and not let fear and anxiety hold me back, living a life filled with fears, doubts, negativity and anxiety wasn’t an option for me. 

I believe everything happens for a reason, and it was no coincidence that when I was shopping for an outfit for burning man, I met today’s guest, Julian Brass. Little did I know that chance meeting would lead to today’s podcast about a subject that I’m passionate about. 

Julian’s international best-selling book, Own Your Anxiety, takes you on an inspirational journey of self-discovery, to transform anxiety into your secret edge. With 99 bite-sized, powerful tips in the book, you may discover that anxiety is your greatest gift. 

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Kathy Smith: Julian, it’s great to have you. Welcome to the show.

Julian Brass: Thank you, Kathy. It’s so good to be here with you again.

Kathy Smith: I know. We missed you at Burning Man, I have to say. I was definitely disappointed that I wasn’t able to dance or anything like that. But I realized that you had an injury or something. You just hurt yourself.

Julian Brass: Yeah. I just hurt my foot after making all the arrangements with my friends and getting the RV. And it’s funny now, I even had a duffle bag that was shipped to Burning Man for me, which currently sits on my balcony. I’m staring at it as we bring up Burning Man memories. And I’ve only half unpacked it, because half of the things in it, I’m like, “Well, I definitely don’t need that for day-to-day life in Toronto, Canada.” Like those neon glasses, you know? But yeah. Do you know what? You and I will dance again.

Kathy Smith: Well, I didn’t realize until I was doing the research for this episode that anxiety disorders– it’s so prevalent– that 40 million adults now are affected each year. But what made you jump into this category and what made you write this book?

Julian Brass: It’s such an epidemic. In fact, it’s an epidemic that made my head rise up and say, “Hang on a second. I have a relationship with this particular topic. Maybe I can really help heal this epidemic.” So my relationship with anxiety goes back to 2008. I was 24 years old at that time. I had just moved back from working in Silicon Valley for a couple of years. I moved back to Toronto, that is.  It was my first time being full on, on my own in terms of not being employed, not living at home, or having a university degree to get and focus on. It was my first time totally being independent and saying, “Do you know what? I don’t want to work for someone else, and I’m no longer being supported at all by my parents, so I’m going to start a business.”

I decided to start a business in 2008, right around when the recession hit. It was in that moment of being an entrepreneur with no financial backing, no trust fund, no huge savings account, no partner, no life experience per se that would really help me weather the storm of entrepreneurship, especially a startup entrepreneurship, that I got really bad anxiety out of nowhere. And eventually I learned that the anxiety that I thought was absolutely something to be ashamed about and surely should not talk about and to run from as much as I possibly could, rather than lean into and explore, that same anxiety I later on learned was actually my edge and my superpower. And it was my higher self speaking to me.

It was also this force of natural energy that I had an opportunity to completely channel and harness in a different direction just like a pro athlete would before they get anxious to go on the court or the ice or an incredible performer does before he or she goes on stage. I too could learn how to take that anxiety, shift it, and make it my edge in business. And that is how this whole thing started. As I got more and more savvy and refined at how to make that shift happen before those high-intensity meetings or those huge presentations, I started to be able to apply it to many different aspects of my life.

As that all started to happen, my business did better, my relationships did better, my health got better, may happiness got way, way, way better and higher. Eventually, this led to a pretty significant 180 in terms of how I wanted to live my life.

So I sold the business after nine years, and I decided I really wanted to help people to learn how to own their anxiety and own their lives in general, which led to me writing this book and essentially, me being on your podcast right now.

Kathy Smith: It was quite a journey. I do want to say that when I hear you talk about it and when I’ve read about it, you put yourself in a situation. So when you say it came out of nowhere, it’s interesting what you know now and how you might have handled things differently back in 2008. Because just listening to that – starting a company, things got ugly quickly, working 16 hours a day, all that sort of startup mentality probably would throw anybody into that kind of cycle. So it’s interesting that you had the wherewithal to pull back and look that if you’d kept going down that path, where your health, where your wellbeing (mental and physical health) would be.

But jumping back to the book, I love the way that you’ve broken it down in bite-size pieces, and yet, I did have a friend who I gave her the book and she goes, “Having to go through 99 tips gives me a little anxiety.” I thought that was kind of fun.

So I thought to myself, “Let’s break it down,” because I love the way that you break it down into techniques that some of them are calming techniques that you can use right in the moment of having an anxiety attack or experiencing anxiety. Then others are more lifestyle techniques that you can do to just start to build some resiliency. Is there a reason why you broke it down in the three categories you chose: Own Your Body, Own Your Mind, Own Your Soul?

Julian Brass: Yes. Absolutely, there is. It’s because the body, the mind, and the soul create our being. And far too often in life, we think that they’re not connected or we’re not even mindful of the fact that how we treat our mind and our soul will impact how we decide to show up to treat our body. We also don’t realize the body’s a gateway to the mind and from a place of mindfulness, then we can also invite in more spirituality. We’re very, very disconnected between these three different aspects of ourselves, and I wanted to break up the book in a way where people would start to understand the interconnection between the three parts of ourselves. The reason why there are 99 is well, for one, I thought it was kind of a fun, catchy number.

Kathy Smith: It is.

Julian Brass: So that is very good. I’m glad you think so. For every person like your friend who’s like, “Ninety-nine gives me anxiety.” They might say that when they see the book or they hear of the book. But when they actually start to read the book, they never feel that anxiety anymore. Instead, they kind of start to feel like, “Oh, wow. Interesting. If I just treat this like a la carte style.” Like, “Maybe I’ll try this one today or try that one today and not feel responsible that I have to adopt 99 new tools into my life all at once,” because that’s definitely not the intention. But rather, it’s to wake people up and realize that you possess the keys. You literally hold the keys. Now, it’s your opportunity to put them in the ignition of your life.

I want people to understand, also, that there is such an opportunity to be your individual, awesome, beautiful, sacred self. And if your best friend likes number 2 and you like 52, that’s okay. So I wanted to make sure that people felt that they could be the individual that they are, and this book is so far from a one-size-fits-all mentality. Because frankly, that’s an ignorant place to come from. We’re all different. That’s what makes us beautiful. What you love, I may not, and what makes you feel healthy may make me feel really, really crappy. So I wanted to make sure that people can really find what suits them and then start to embrace it and then lean into that.

Kathy Smith: Yeah, I love that. And I love the fact that it’s like a workbook. I’m using it almost like a workbook where you can pick it up, you can thumb through and something catches your eye. Like today, I’ll get into one that caught my eye was, “Don’t jay walk.”

And I’m thinking, “Well, what does that mean? Why would that create anxiety?” Then you read through it and it’s just a couple of pages, but you get the point. You have time, then, to practice that throughout the day or the week or however often you want to pick up the book. But then, it gets back to this interconnectedness that you mentioned. That when you start to layer these different techniques on top of each other, that’s when the magic, the miracles start to happen. Or at least in my life.

You start with one technique, and then there’s another, and then there’s another. And pretty soon, you just notice your whole being – how you’re sleeping, how you’re showing up in public, how you’re going through the day. It’s joyful, it’s fun, it’s energized, and you don’t have that feeling of doom or anxiety anymore. So that’s what I think’s great about how you’ve laid out the book.

Julian Brass: Kathy, I love that you brought up that one by the way. Don’t jay walk. So for everyone listening who has not had a chance yet to read on your anxiety, let me just get something out of the way here. Don’t jay walk, while it is literal, it’s also a metaphor for don’t invite things into your life that will create anxiety and that will make you feel off center and a bit charged up and maybe put yourself into a state of fight or flight. Right?

Don’t jay walk was inspired after I was with my yoga guru. We had done a whole day of training and we were going to go to lunch together. We had a half day. We were going to lunch, and I said, “There’s no traffic. Let’s go.” And I was starving.

He was like, “No, no, no, Julian. We have just worked so hard to feel Zen and to feel calm and centered. Why would be trade that with the potential of raising our heartrate as we cross the street?”

I was like, “Oh, my gosh. You’re so right.” We need to guard ourselves from these different things that will create even a tiny, like minute percent anxiety for one person or a lot for another person. So jay walking is an example that can be really put into so many different aspects of our lives. Like maybe, don’t pay your bills late. Or don’t park your car in front of the store with your four ways on, and as you run inside for five minutes, be super anxious checking to see if you’re going to get a ticket. Or maybe don’t leave your bathroom dirty if you’re going to be having guests over or people always stop by and it makes you feel really shy and embarrassed. Or don’t whatever it might be for you.

By embracing the don’ts that create anxiety, we then all of a sudden invite in the do, which is to do be more mindful, do love yourself, do live more intentionally, and do own your anxiety.

The last thing on that, Kathy, is that a lot of people think that, “My anxiety is just like the way I am. It’s just who I am.” And that is such BS. No offense. It is not just the way we are. Sure, one person might be a little more prone to anxious feelings than another, sure. But if that person is also deciding to do all the little things that make them feel a tiny bit more anxious throughout the day, basically, they’re just lingering on anxiety layer after layer after layer after layer.

But if we can wake up and say, “That thing I do is a layer that gives me a little more anxiety, and so is that and so is that. They’re actually not needed,” or, “I can make some really intentional changes in my life to not invite them in.” Then all of a sudden, we’re like, “Whoa! Okay. I’m back in charge. I can now really get in the decision-maker’s seat in the board room that is my life.”

Kathy Smith: Yeah. That was a big take away for me in this book. You mention it, but if you’re driving to your meeting, you’re 20 minutes late, you’re listening to hip-hop music, you’re taking a quick peek at your emails at the stop light and you get there, and you’re wondering, “Why do I feel anxious?” And yet, you reverse that – and that’s one of the things I have my morning ritual through the years. It didn’t happen overnight, but through the years, I started putting on classical music. I do my meditation. I put on my matcha combination turmeric tea that I like to make. I have the way that I start my mornings, and it just sets me up for this idea of success. So I do like that.

But let’s switch gears into another aspect of this, which is negative thinking has a lot to do with creating anxiety. So what are some techniques that you’ve kind of found that will help perhaps crush these negative thoughts or shift them into a more positive direction?

Julian Brass: I love you asked me that, because just this week, I decided, “Okay. Do you know what? This book is helping people all over the world. It’s time to seriously amp up my YouTube channel.” And the first video that my awesome content creator, Ashley, and I launched just a couple of days ago is literally called “No Negative Self Talk No More”.

Kathy Smith: Good title.

Julian Brass: Thanks, Kathy. And I’m glad you asked the question because self-talk literally has been scientifically proven. It’s been researched. There are many experiments now that have come out on the power of positive self-talk versus negative self-talk. It’s absolutely stunning research and insights to what we allow ourselves to think or how much we will sit in our thoughts rather than changing them for the better will actually affect our lives.

It used to be very like, “Whoa, he’s such a hippy,” or “She’s a tree hugger to believe that you can manifest things, that thoughts become a reality.” And now, it’s actually been proven.

So how do we do this? The first step is to really try to become more self-aware on, “How am I thinking? Where are my thoughts? How am I speaking to myself? Am I judging others?” Am I letting the thoughts that if, let’s say, the person I love most in the world tell me they were thinking, am I letting those thoughts live in my mind?

Or if that person came up to you and said, “This is where my thoughts are,” would you not say, “Well, listen. Maybe you don’t want to let yourself think that, because it’s only going to hurt you.”

We need to become so aware of our thoughts and our thinking that we all of sudden gain the power and the ability to shift it. For example, if I am walking down the street and I’m just thinking, “Oh, my god. Okay, I’ve got so many bills to pay. I feel so anxious right now, because I said something really stupid last night, and I always say something really stupid.” Then you’ll walk by a mirror and say, “Geez, you look like shit, Julian.” All of a sudden, my energy center is so much lower and I’m also now inviting in this idea of scarcity. And scarcity can lead to anxiety, because it’s this feeling of, “I’m just not enough.”

So if we can instead– and from being not enough by the way, what leads next is generally a fear of the unknown or a feeling of inadequacy or shame. And shame-induced anxiety is so real. So many people who are listening right now are probably so shameful about something that they did five years ago or yesterday. But it’s in that world of living with shame that they’re now feeling more anxious.

So if we can become aware of the negative self-talk and the negative thoughts, we then, have an opportunity to do something called replacement thinking, which is to literally take either: A. the opposite of that negative thought to the complete opposite or B. just introduce a new thought that has nothing to do with that one.

Let me put that into practice, because it might sound a bit hard if people are just listening and can’t see what I’m talking about. If let’s say, I walked down the street and I look in the mirror and I think I’ve gained a couple of pounds, okay? And I say to myself, “Oh man, you look like you gained some weight. You’re looking fat.” Let’s say it’s that simple. “You look fat.” Let’s just say. And I could then, either A. say the opposite, which is, “Even though I may have put on a couple of pounds,” think about how much I’ve enjoyed the food that I’ve been eating, or think about all the wonderful dinners I’ve had the opportunity to be at recently or think about all the great family that I’ve been with over the holidays. “I’m so grateful for that. It’s so nice. And do you know what? I could lose the two pounds. You’re still a great person.” That’s replacement thinking. We took the opposite which is a negative, defeating self-talk and then we just switched it.

And then the other option, which is B., would be come up with something completely off that topic. Okay, so I’m walking by the mirror. “Julian, you’ve gained two pounds.”

“I’m so grateful that I have the ability to see myself. I am so grate–.” Are you with me?

Kathy Smith: Yeah. I’m totally with you. But I have two others that I’ve heard recently.

Julian Brass: Bring it on.

Kathy Smith: Okay. To that second point of break the pattern. This is what I do. I practice this and I’ve told some people. I get such a giggle out of it. The first one is not the giggle one. But the first one is just simply that the brain can’t hold these two thoughts simultaneously. So basically, if you go, “I’m fat, I’m fat.” Or you look in the mirror and go, “I just don’t look good today,” you pick two-digit numbers, and you just start saying them. They have to be two-digit, not single-digit and between 10 and 100. So I  might go, “86, 54, 22,” and by the time you get– and try this one at home, you guys– because by the time you get to the third or fourth number, your brain has to think about what the next number and they also can’t be in succession because your brain can go, “91, 92, 93,” and you can still have this other thought. But when you have to bounce around, this one just breaks my thought pattern immediately.

And then, you stop thinking about it. Let’s say, two minutes later, it comes back again. You try it. Usually, if it comes back by the second or third time, “74,” I can break the pattern.

But the other one that’s really funny is hash tag. Because you just make yourself giggle. You go down and you start saying what you’re talking and you start #poorme, #bigbutt, #whatever.  It just makes you giggle. I do the hash tag one. It makes me break that negative cycle, and then do some of the other things that you talked about like replace it with a positive thought. I like those ideas, and I think it’s so important in our day and age.

Julian Brass: I love that, Kathy.

Kathy Smith: That’s fun.

Julian Brass: Yeah, that’s a really fun one.

Kathy Smith: Just think the hash tag. Again, it’s outrageous. I play this with a friend of mine. You start cracking each other up because you get more outrageous with one another. I’m like, “Oh, my god. That’s so bizarre.”

Let’s switch over into– there’s a generalized anxiety and then sometimes it can be almost debilitating I will tell you personally, when I went through a divorce. But anybody out there that’s gone through a divorce or to your point, when you’re a startup company and nothing’s going right, or these things where I would get in bed. Let me tell you how mine manifested. I would be in bed. I could kind of make it through the day. I would be in bed. I literally would feel like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. And it was crushing. I thought, “Oh, my god. How am I going to survive?”

I literally, one of the techniques I used was– and I’d love for you to talk about it– was your technique number one in your book. So first of all, I’d love for you to describe it and then, secondly, why did you put it as technique number one?

Julian Brass: You’re talking about Breathe of course.

Kathy Smith: Yes.

Julian Brass: First of all, everyone listening who has ever felt the way Kathy used to feel, you’re not alone. It’s extremely common to feel like that, so please know it. Breath is number one in my book because it all starts with our breath. It’s so key, it’s so much literally a part of our– if you think about what is us, there is almost nothing that is more intimate and done by every human than breathing. We all do it. We do it automatically. The thing is that most people – the vast majority unfortunately – are so automatic in their breath that they might be hurting themselves with how they breathe. And there’s science out there that shows how when one breathes into their chest and their lungs, they are activating a part of the nervous system which then leads to the fight or flight response.

Fight or flight is something that we were genetically disposed to possess so that we could get out of emergency situations. Thousands of years ago, when our ancestors lived out in the jungles and the forests and there were animals attacking us or enemy tribes, we needed that fight or flight response. But thankfully, very rarely today do we need the fight or flight response, yet we still possess it. It’s like our emergency response. But people, not even knowingly, the second they’re feeling a bit like, “Oh, shucks, I’m late for that meeting.” Or, “That person said something mean. Now I’ve got to defend myself.”

Whatever the case may be, whenever that moment where you feel like [deep breath sound], they breathe into their chest or their lungs. They create the fight or flight, activating what’s called the sympathetic nervous system and they actually are just making it worse.

In my live workshops, I often do a little demo for everybody where I start to pretend I’m hyperventilating. It’s the same idea. If you jump into a freezing, cold body of water, you’re like, [multiple deep breaths]. Think about an angry person. Think about someone who’s really anxious. Oftentimes, they are breathing right there.

So the reason why I started the book with Breathe is that by simply deciding to start breathing more into the belly area of the body, we can activate what’s called the parasympathetic nervous system, which then leads to the relaxation response. And literally, physiologically, we now shift what’s happening inside our bodies just by breathing. I call it NTB in the book. That’s just my whole thing – NTB. Nose to belly is what it stands for, and it’s really important that we breathe into our bellies as much as possible. I try to breathe into my belly all the time, and there’s no reason not to. There’s no reason that we need to be breathing into our chest or our lungs.

It’s totally fine to go from the nose to the belly. And by doing that, we all of a sudden set our benchmark and base level – let’s say starting point of anxiety – at a much lower level. So we can, therefore, take on more if we’re entering the world each day from a place of a lower base line of anxiety. If I start my day and I’m already super worked up, you throw a couple more things my way and I’m going to break down. But if I’m starting my day off after getting my nervous system in the right place and getting my body feeling really calm and peaceful, I can take on so much more.

So that’s why I start the book off. I want people to just jump in and take something so valuable away right off the bat.

Kathy Smith: That’s brilliant. And I’m sitting here nasal breathing and just as you say it, and I go back into my nasal/belly breathing, you can feel that relaxation response, that calming feeling, and the change in the physiology of the body. What’s also important with anything I step into, whether it’s a performance, it’s a meeting, it’s a social situation, when you can calm yourself down and you don’t release that cascade of hormonal changes that happens with the fight-or-flight syndrome, then your wellbeing not only in that moment but throughout the day, throughout the week, you start to get more into the homeostasis where you feel good and healthy, and you’re not triggering these cortisol responses that eventually trigger you to store belly fat and all those things we have talked about on the show about cortisol.

So I think that is so simple, but it is such a super tool. And it can take a lifetime to just get into that and get consistent with it. So I like the fact that you start with that.

Let’s talk about a couple of other calming techniques that you would use in these situations where people have anticipatory anxiety before getting up on stage, any public speaking, a wedding toast, maybe walking into a big party and you’re nervous about how you look or what you’re going to say. What would you suggest are some calming techniques?

Julian Brass: Great question. I’m glad you asked this. First of all, right off the bat, everybody listening, I want you to tell yourself as you are about to partake in one of these situations, “I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this.” That little bit of positive self-talk will make a huge difference. So just hear this voice, “I’ve got this. I’ve got this.” As you hear your awesome voice, saying, “I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this.” Because you do have this. You do. We need more love in this world, especially for ourselves and that will create such a beautiful impact on the entire universe first of all.

Now beyond that, let’s get into some science. There is something that I like to call the trifecta, and I’m going to share it with all your listeners right now. Typically, this is a thing I kind of reserve for my workshops, but let’s do it.

The trifecta consists of, first of all, NTB breathing (nose-to-belly breathing like we just shared a couple of minutes ago). That involves gratitude. Okay, so with the breath, giving gratitude for one different thing or person or emotion or attribute with each breath. So if you’re feeling that anticipatory anxiety, inhale from the nose to the belly, and then as you inhale, give gratitude for one thing. Then as you exhale, visualize that one thing coming closer and closer and closer and closer. That’s what I call breath of gratitude. I start every morning with at least 5 to 10.

Next up in this trifecta idea is to smile even when you don’t feel like smiling. Because smiling has been proven to lower what is called distress response. So if you’re feeling stressed out and you just start to smile, you literally will lower your stress response. There was a study done called the pen test, which showed that any smile will do you some good. But really, if you want to nail this, smile as if you’re holding a pen between your teeth. So a genuine smile. The cool thing is that even if we don’t feel like smiling, the brain doesn’t know the difference. We create a positive chemical reaction in the mind by having that genuine smile. So throw that beautiful smile on your face for a few moments and you will create a different chemical reaction in your mind. And that is super powerful.

So if someone listening is about to go rock the runway or present to their team or try to get that next client deal or walk into that Christmas dinner or walk into that event of any kind or make that wedding toast or whatever the case may be. Even if you have to travel. A lot of people, Kathy, get major travel anxiety. Whatever it might be, nose-to-belly breathing, give gratitude with each breath for one different thing, and then smile and you will notice a huge difference happen very fast.

Then the whole thing that I want to just close with there is that the whole idea is that anxiety is actually our gift. So if you’re feeling anxious, as you lower that negative nervous energy which is anxiety, then I want you to use the energy that is now so much more manageable and direct it into what it is that you want to do. If you’re going to give that wedding speech, okay, awesome. Now you’ve got all this natural energy. Use it to fuel you and make you more charismatic, more energetic, passionate. You’re going to give that big business pitch for that huge new deal that’s going to change your life and your family’s life. Okay, no problem.

Do what LeBron James does or another pro athlete does or what an amazing musician does. Take the negative nervous energy, which is anxiety, lower it by doing nose-to-belly breathing, giving gratitude, and smiling. Now take the energy that you can control and knock that business meeting out of the park by being incredible and so intelligent, so eloquent.

Do you see? It’s this really interesting relationship with energy that often is just too much for the body. So we start to say, “Oh, my gosh. I’ve got to know what’s going on. I can’t handle this. I’m so anxious.” But if we can then take that energy and really make it work, then all of a sudden, we’re owning our anxiety.

Kathy Smith: Yeah. I think that is a powerful statement, and it’s that shift that I experienced getting back to how we started this show with going on stage. So when I was more concerned about, “What are people going to say about me,” and “Am I going to do the right thing? Am I going to look stupid?” All those things. Then I would have those feelings.

What happened is that once I got through an understanding I can physically let go of energy by doing something physical and doing my meditating but also I shift that intention so I’m running to that stage or walking up on stage, it’s, “What can I give to this audience? How can I share any of my gifts with an audience and help them to achieve their dreams and what they want?” When you come from a place of giving instead of– so when I walk on that stage, it’s just an energy shift that my energy is going out instead of a negative energy coming at me. And once I did that, all those feelings– when I say they subsided, it’s to your point. You still feel excited, you still feel things start to happen in your body, but you’re shifting how you define it.

So when somebody will ask me, “Are you nervous when you go on stage,” I go, “No. I’m excited about going on stage.” And those two terms, excitement and nervousness, kind of feel the same sometimes, you know?

Julian Brass: Oh, do they ever.

Kathy Smith: So that’s very powerful. But I think that’s the part of the book which to the listeners out there, Julian has created a book that is about this self-journey and this self-discovery. What I just am so impressed with the way that he’s laid it out is that it’s doable, it’s accessible, but it’s deep. It’s deep and understanding. You take one of these concepts like your relationships. If you’re feeling anxious around certain friends or your boyfriend or somebody at the office, if there’s an anxious feeling, then that’s the way your body is giving you a signal something’s not quite right here and maybe something has to be addressed.

In in doing and taking those steps, that’s where you start to transform your life. It sounds like that’s been your journey through this whole period.

Julian Brass: Yeah. The journey of awakening that I was gifted, thanks to my anxiety, has completely shifted every aspect of my life. And it’s a continual journey. It’s not like anxiety is just like if you don’t want it, you can push a button and now it’s gone. No. But all of a sudden, you do the positive self-work on your mind, on your body, on your soul over and over and over again and you learn to love it. And you can’t not learn to love it, Kathy and everyone listening. When you do this enough times and you work on yourself in a positive way, you’re going to be like, “Holy shit. I was walking around half asleep or fully asleep for the past x amount of time.”

So when we start, that journey is beautiful. It’s amazing. And it’s okay if you slip. I still slip. It’s okay. But it’s about getting back on that track.

Kathy Smith: Yeah. And I don’t even know if I would call it slipping. I just think it’s life. You’re going to have things that– well, I don’t even know exactly what you’re mean by slipping. But I do know that whether it’s exercise or eating right or whatever, there’s a flow to it. And when you get away from I ate bad, I ate good, or whatever, you just get into, “This is how I ate today. This is how it made me feel.”

You get into more of the awareness of the moment. “I ate 14 Reese’s peanut butter cups and I don’t feel good.” So instead of a slip, you get to, “Oh, I become more mindful. That didn’t make me feel so good.” And I get into, “I feel better when I don’t do it.” And eventually by just feeding your brain those messages, eventually, you’re going to hit those Reese’s peanut butter cups and just, “I remember last time. I don’t want to feel like that.”

And I think that’s a bit of what happens here with all these things: loud music, staying up late, drinking too much. Eventually, if you just start to notice, you’ll start to feel the shift. It, in my opinion, is kind of how these things unfold.

Julian Brass: I would agree with you for sure.

Kathy Smith: Okay. I know I’ve got to let you go because I could talk forever. But I just wanted to make sure. I should have talked about this earlier on, but I want to make sure before we leave what we’re talking about. Because there’s generalized anxiety and then there’s like a professional-grade anxiety, where perhaps somebody maybe needs to go to a therapist or seek out help. Do you differentiate between the two? This book is good for everybody, but I’m assuming that if somebody needs professional help that they should be seeking that out?

Julian Brass: Right. At the beginning of the book, very boldly I state that I’m not a doctor and I’m not a traditional healthcare practitioner. And that if anyone feels they’re in danger or feels like their anxiety is really just too, too much for them, then there’s no shame in going to see their GP right away and asking for help. That’s a very important thing to do, and there’s no shame.

This book will help anybody. The degree of which it will help depends on the individual. So that’s really important. It’s going to help everybody but to what degree, that depends on you. I just want you to love yourself no matter what degree it does and no matter where you’re at in your life. The key to get from point A to point B is we’ve got to love ourselves on that journey and then the journey will become a lot easier.

Kathy Smith: And the way you say it in the book– I’m going to put this on my screen saver. It’s “Become Your Biggest Fan.” I think then one of my biggest take aways from today is that you have these demons or whatever. They can seem scary, but as you start confronting them, that anxiety starts to dwindle or disappear and you realize that you can endure anxiety and survive. And not only survive but thrive. As you say, use it as your secret weapon to become the very best version of yourself.

So I thank you for that, Julian. You’re amazing. And I look forward to going to your YouTube channel. We’re going to put it in the liner notes. But why don’t you just let everybody know where they can get your book and where they can find you?

Julian Brass: Absolutely. Thank you for having me first of all. It was really a pleasure to chat with you again. Everybody, if you want to find me, JulianBrass.com is the website. I send out a life letter, which is a little sign that I call my daily email. And it’s a brief inspirational idea each day. It’s only about two or three sentences. It’s super easy to read. And the idea is that we can wake up with that inspiration. If you’d like to get on that, it’s JulianBrass.com/subscribe.

There’s also Instagram where I’m very active at JulianBrass. YouTube is YouTube.com/Julian Brass. And the last thing I was going to say is that I have the online Own Your Anxiety class launching very soon. It’s 30 days, Kathy. Thirty days to completely transform your relationship with anxiety. I’m telling you, this is something that I am– next to the book, which took me two and a half years to write and research– I have not been this excited about anything that I’m doing. Because 30 days is such a short amount of time, and I know that if I have a chance to actually work with people, one to one – yes, virtually – but still one to one, and I can actually help you with your journey through Own Your Anxiety and teach you the method first hand, your life will be completely different 30 days later. So I’m so pumped to be able to bring that to the world super soon.

Kathy Smith: Okay. Just FYI as you’re talking, I signed up for your newsletter. And I’m looking for this workshop, but it’s not up there yet on your site. So you’ll let us know.

Julian Brass: It’s not up yet.

Kathy Smith: Okay. That sounds amazing. If you’re interested, do what I did. I just went to JulianBrass.com and right at the bottom there, you’ll see Julian’s face, and I signed up for his newsletter. So I’ll be getting his tips every day. I’m sure at that point, we’ll get an update on when this workshop will take place.

Julian Brass: Exactly. That will be how I share it.

Kathy Smith: Okay. Well, Julian, it’s been a blast. Thank you. I’m going to have a less anxious day because of you. Anxiety-free day I should say. Anyway, bye-bye.

Julian Brass: Bye-bye everyone.

Kathy Smith: So my big take away from Julian is that owning your anxiety is in a sense about mindfulness and discovering what’s triggering your anxiety. Is it toxic relationships? If so, it might be time to clean them up. Or is it negative self-talk, and is that your default choice? You see, making positive thoughts a conscious choice can definitely reduce anxiety.

Perhaps you’re looking for validation from the external world. We all want to be validated and liked and recognized, but that could lead to self-doubt, lack of confidence, and you guessed it, anxiety.

So some of Julian’s 99 simple steps from his book Own Your Anxiety can help you shift your focus to your internal world and away from the external perceived criticisms. As we all become more comfortable with being slightly outside of that comfort zone, then that comfort zone expands and we feel less nervous and less anxious in life.

Lastly, don’t forget that exercise in general – specifically aerobic exercise – can be very helpful in managing anxiety. So if you’re feeling a little uptight, go for a walk. And while you’re walking, remember that these podcasts are great for making the time seem to pass like the snap of your fingers. And there are dozens of episodes that you can listen to that are in the archives. So if you’re interested in learning how to effectively start to do intermittent fasting, then just check out the podcast. Also if your hormones are feeling a little out of whack, then you want to make sure you check in with Sarah Godfrey’s podcast. It’s brilliant. Or if you want to learn about the new science on aging and better aging, then check out the episode with Dr. Bob Goldman.

The Art of Living podcast is available wherever you listen. So just search The Art of Living with Kathy Smith whether you’re on Apple podcast, Stitchers, Spotify, and you’re going to find all the other episodes there. I have so much fun doing them, so go ahead and leave a review and tell me what you like, what you don’t like. But most importantly, tell me what you want to hear about. Because I get excited about connecting with people and bringing you the latest information on all the things you’re interested in.

I’m getting a lot of requests for bone density. It seems like osteopenia and osteoporosis is happening to a lot of people. If you enjoyed this episode, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave that review. And don’t forget to also just come over to Instagram. Once again, I have posts up there. I give you workouts. I give you recipes. This is a really great time of year. I’m into my recipes right now, so I’m giving out a lot of recipes and really cool workouts. So check it out and leave me a comment. Once again, it’s my way of connecting.

And last but not least, this episode would not exist without Nick from Podcast Monster. A big shoutout to him. I love him to death. And if you want to check him out, go to PodcastMonster.com. So until next time, here’s to your health. Bye-bye.