The One Thing That Finally Helped Me Manage My Anxiety

Oren Hod
5 min readFeb 13, 2021
Photo: Unsplash by Aliaksei

It is very common these days to find blog posts from writers who share “5 tips on how to run the best 1-on-1 meeting”/be more productive/get more clients, and many more. I honestly don’t understand how the people who write them are so good with tips. Are they that aware of every step they take when having the 1-on-1 meeting? If so, are they even present in the meeting? Or all they all in their heads thinking, “Oh, I just did this — let’s remember it and add it to the tips list.” Sounds like a lot of inner dialogues going on in their head.

I might sound critical of those people, and it is only because when I sat down and tried hard to write something, I tried the “5 tips” thing and had no idea where to bring the tips from. “People must be really smart,” I thought. “Why can’t I come up with crazy good and almost-scientific sounding like tips with percentages and stats.”

Feeling not enough, I thought, “What can I bring? What can I write about?” I reflected back on my life and realized, “Since I don’t have tips lists that I’ve kept through the years, I should think of something that can both provide value to the reader and also allow me to vent.” This would get me out of my head and perhaps even provide some healing. I decided I would try to write ideas down that I have about life and weird but effective tricks I used in times of struggle that really helped me.

It all started back in June 2017 when pretty bad anxiety entered my life — the type of one that comes and stays. A few major life events triggered it; some of them are good events and some less so, but they were all big meaningful events — big enough to turn on the alarms in my systems. One day, in the middle of a big team meeting, I felt weird. It felt like my brain was speeding and that I couldn’t control my thoughts and judgment of the thoughts (hard to explain). I felt out of control of my body and started to shut off. I felt I was going to faint, so I elegantly walked out of the meeting room and ran to the bathroom, thinking to myself, “If I pass out, I don’t want anyone to see it.” Somehow, I didn’t pass out there, but the anxiety stayed on and off for three years and kept changing its form.

My Journey to Recovery And the Point of This Whole Writing

Pretty quickly in my healing journey, I understood the annoying realization that big questions don’t have answers. I was obsessed with finding out why it all happened. Why me? Now, at 36, I started questioning everything in my life: my marriage, my career, my life in NYC. But anxiety is tricky and smart, so I went to see a therapist, and then I added a spiritual healer and a Coach — all of them helped me a lot. I learned my most important life lesson so far: That anxiety is a calling for love and attention.

Love and attention are big subjects, and while they made me change and shift a few things in my life, this effort is lifelong work. It’s also the most rewarding job.

Remember what I mentioned about the tips from the beginning? Every time I had a peak in my anxiety — when I was on the verge of another form of a panic attack or every time I wanted to take control over my brain and feel good — I tried new things. At first, I rushed to the gym, believing that if I run and sweat out everything, I would relax and forget about it. Spoiler: That didn’t work for me. Then, the next time I tried to breathe deep, my body and brain didn’t react to it. I then tried affirmations; I would say the same line to myself over and over, and while it worked sometimes, it didn’t always. One day, I tried something new that really helped me. I don’t have a name for it, but we can call it the Pop-up Memory Experience. Every time I needed to take control over my brain when it was in fear and an uncontrollable mode, I hyper-focus on something that I love, that excites me, and that makes me think a little. In my case, it was basketball and sex. Separately.

I played basketball on a team for most of my life, so I know the game well, and I love it. So, I closed my eyes and imagined myself holding the ball and playing offense with my team. I was looking for a good move, “Where should I go with the ball? Who is blocking who? Who should I pass the ball to? Should I just go ahead and shoot?” And just like that, I stopped thinking about the fear and liberated my brain for the moment. I took control of it and actually had some fun.

With sex, it was even better. I won’t say a lot, but I will invite you to really work on the sensations (sight, touch, sound, taste — try all of them) and really be specific. Let yourself play and have fun. Re-live a past experience or use a fantasy. I assure you that your brain won’t push away this stream of pleasure.

You get the idea; it’s very simple, but it worked better than anything I tried. It has the power to shift the entire “scene” in your head and create a new, fun, and pleasurable one. It is YOU sending a message to your brain saying, “Hey! I am the boss now!” And the fun part is, you can choose whatever scene that works for you. Just don’t go for the solo scene. Pick something that involves another person or a team; you need those external focal points to trigger the brain. At first, you’ll have very short scenes and that’s OK — they were still beneficial for me. When your brain throws you out of it, go back to it. Just like the real world, it takes practice.

This exercise really saved me a couple of times. Today, I use it for other things, such as falling asleep or pushing away negative thoughts. It just breaks a loop around one topic that I am obsessively thinking about. I also added a few scenes: me driving a Formula 1 race car and a day in a life of me as____ (I choose fun stuff here).

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I hope even more that you’ll find this mind hack valuable for you as much as it is for me.

What will be your choice? Where would you go in your head? Feel free to share.

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Oren Hod

Business and life Coach | Automotive enthusiast, Founder of Wheels of NYC, a media company for car enthusiasts based in Brooklyn, NYC.