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  • Writer's pictureSacred Heart Mental Wellness

How to Mange Anxiety as Catholics || The Power of Praying the Rosary

Video Interview with Catholic-Link

February 3,2022

Katie: Ever wondered how to deal with anxiety and how maybe the Rosary could help you? We're gonna talk about that and more coming up next.

Drew: Hey everyone we are Drew and Katie Taylor with Catholic Link joined here with Catherine DiNuzzo from Sacred Heart Mental Wellness. If you're new to the channel please hit subscribe it really helps get the work out and share this video with a friend.

Katie: our last video we talked about how anxiety is a biological response that 99% of us are struggling if you are not that person your friend definitely is and all need these resources because once we have that response we're gonna talk a little bit about what we do and so Catherine what...maybe like a tiny intro into what anxiety is but definitely need to watch the other video {laughing}

Catherine: One of the important things from the last video that we talked about is that the anxious response, what I call, is that animal brain...that part of our brain that's job is to keep us alive. That God gives us because he loves us, sometimes gets scared over things that aren't very scary.

Drew | Katie: Yeah

Catherine: And our cognitive brain knows it's not scary but our animal brain, its like an animal it just is scared and so we spend most of the time in my counseling office helping people to not be mad at their animal brains that they have no control over.

Drew | Katie: Yeah

Catherine: If you watched the last video we were teasing Drew that he just couldn't accept that he didn't have control over his animal brain.

Drew: I still don't accept it.

Catherine: So he would be job security for me {laughing}

Drew | Katie: {laughing}

Catherine: and so being able to see that this is a natural okay response and what I call get off the hamster wheel. So what the hamster wheel is, is that I feel this natural biological response. My heart starts beating, my tummy gets sick, I have a choice in that moment. I can either take a deep breath and say, "God thank you for this response to keep me safe", but I'm not in danger and I'm okay. Or I can get mad at myself. I can get anxious that I'm anxious ...and then I could anxious that I'm anxious that I'm anxious...and then I can keep getting anxious that I'm anxious until I feel like I'm almost having a heart attack.

Katie: Yeah

Catherine: and we get to make that decision and the difference of everything we are going to talk about is that if choose to get off the hamster wheel and realize that God made you good, that you are amazing...that this is a natural thing and not to be mad at yourself about it then you can take these steps to help calm the anxious brain, but if you don't nothing we say is going to work. So truly this video is, to me today, to help encourage you to hold onto the giggle that we talked about last week. To be able to give yourself grace to realize that God made you good and you are absolutely enough and whatever fear you're having you can give it to him, give it to Mary and he can love you through it. But you have to give Him that first, and then we can talk about some of the things that can help.

Katie: Yeah... I think that that's...I just want to repeat that, like you are created good, you are enough, that you having this fear this response does not you unfaithful. It doesn't make you a bad Catholic, it doesn't make you a bad person, it doesn't make you a bad mom, daughter, husband, wife, makes you a daughter of God or a son of God and he just gave you this gift out of love and so I think it's really important for our viewers to hear that and then...I love like giving it over to God. Um one of the ways that I concretely do this is when I sit down in prayer which can sometime be like my most anxious time because all of the things that I need to pray about are coming to the surface and it's like okay I have x, y, and z on my brain and to immediately go and say....this video, right here I'm going to write that down that its stressing me out so like I'm gonna write it down and say, "Lord I surrender this to you." And just making a concrete list of like these are all of the things that are in my brain...that are pop-corning and I'm gonna say like, "Lord I'm gonna surrender this to you, Lord I surrender this to you, Lord I surrender this to you," and kinda bringing that like purposeful intention of just kinda handing it back to Him is one of the ways that I've definitely seen growth in this area.

Catherine: Absolutely. And I like to call that weeding the garden. So I used to live on the east coast, and you know in Colorado you know if you have a 5x5 ft garden you're pretty impressive....and then I moved to Kansas where unless you have like an acre garden you're not really impressive. So I decided that I was going to plant a garden. And in the spring if you've ever gardened it is so beautiful. The ground is tilled up really nice and all your little things are in a line, and it's not hot and there's no bugs...and I was thinking, "Yes these people know what they're talking about gardening is amazing!" And then July came... because I moved to Kansas...and I don't know if you've ever been to Kansas but it's like 110 degrees, 98% humidity, every bug exists, its miserable.

Katie: {laughing}

Catherine: So about by July 5th I was like, "I'm not weeding anymore, we'll just see what happens," and by August there were so many weeds that I couldn't tell what the vegetables were and what the weeds were. And one day when I went in there and I started weeding the garden I had this moment of, "this is what I do as a counselor!" Right, is weeding through these things to find out what are the vegetables that are actual things I need to work on, and what are the things I have no control over and I just need to week out. And so what I think is really beautiful there is that is one great technique is that when we have our thoughts in our heads they can be anything.

Drew: Yeah

Catherine: I can really think, "if I don't pass this test tomorrow, I'm gonna die."

Katie | Drew: {nodding} yeah

Catherine: Right and our animal brain is like, "what we're not gonna pass this test we're gonna die!" And then we start feeling anxious. And when we realize like, "no I'm probably not gonna die. I might have to retake it, I might have to talk with the professor, I might have to do this." But in the end I'm probably not gonna die, right. And so we have to be able to tell our animal brain that, we have to be able to weed out our garden and sometimes our weeds are so big all we can do is say, "God I know this is a weed but you got it because I can't figure how to get it out."

Drew | Katie: {laughing}

Catherine: And He's kinda like my husband and I'll be like, "can you just mow it?"

Everyone: {laughing}

Catherine: Just mow it off

Katie: We're just gonna start again....

Catherine: Cuz I don't even know where anything is {laughing}

Katie: Is that going to confession...just...

Catherine: I don't have a garden anymore incase anyone was wondering

Everyone: {laughing}

Catherine: Turns out I was not meant to garden {laughing}

Katie: I was definitely there when you planted that garden so it's interesting to see how that the good the reality. {laughing}

Drew: So what are some of the things that Catholics can do to help out with anxiety and to work on controlling or weeding the animal brain?

Katie: Once again, he wants to control the animal brain {laughing}

Drew: Right, how do I do it?


Catherine: Okay first you accept you can't {laughing} Okay so we're gonna have Drew do...can you do something with me...just you and me, we'll just keep working on you. {laughing}

Drew: Yep..yep...yep

Catherine: Okay. Have you ever seen a scary movie?

Drew: Yes

Catherine: Ok. When you see a scary movie and something jumps out at you, what do you do?

Drew: You like jump

Catherine: Do you go like, "oh that's a scary clown, I'll move back now." No you don't right? What happens is that you move back...and then you go, "oh that's a scary clown." To me that is the perfect example where you can feel the difference and the power of your animal brain and how you don't have control over it. You have literally accessed the danger and had your whole body move away from it before your brain even knew anything that was going on.

Drew: Yeah

Catherine: And so when again, the first thing that you do is accept that your animal brain might jump back...and animal brains take pictures and what I have clients struggle with is they think, "well that happened 5 years ago, that happened 20 years ago why is my brain still scared?" Because the animal brain never wants to get it wrong again.

Drew: Huh

Catherine: So it will take a picture and anything that you can see, smell, hear, something from that past the animal brain is like, "well I'm not gonna risk it."

Drew: Yeah

Catherine: Right. I'd rather move back and find out we're safe than not. So being able to realize that, and if you doubt me...because I have a lot of doubters in this thing...maybe I'm admitting to a little soap box here. I want you think about how powerful your animal brain's memory is and I want you to think about apple pie.

Drew | Katie: Mmmm

Catherine: You know what it smells like. You can taste it. You can feel the crunchiness. You might even hear your family's voice, of your mom making it in the kitchen. Right, and so your animal brain remembers all of those things. It's a very powerful safety thing that God gave us, so all of these things that I'm telling you are just to encourage people to realize that no really I don't have control over this and I need to get off the hamster wheel.

Drew: Okay, right. So how does the Rosary into this?

Catherine: Sorry. I'm sorry...thank you Drew {laughing} for keeping us on task

Everyone: {laughing}

Drew: No I want to know. I was told at the beginning of this video I would find out {laughing}

Katie: I stuck around this long

Catherine: Thank you, thank you, I'm sorry. {laughing} So as a counselor I go to all of these conferences about secular ways to help with anxiety. And every time I go it's so frustrating because I'm like, "you're so Catholic....the church has already done this!"

Drew: We've been doing this for 2,000 years

Catherine: 2,000 years!

Katie: Come join us {laughing}

Catherine: Right, and so first of all I think how the Rosary helps is we have to understand that God knew we were going to be anxious. He gave us the Rosary, he gave us mass, he gave us confession. All of these things that help us weed our garden. And so for those out there who think, "Well I'm a Catholic. If I pray enough I won't feel anxious." No, God was like oh hunny the more you pray you're probably gonna be anxious, come to me I've got it, I'm going to give you everything you need. Okay, so the Rosary is a beautiful, meditative, repetitive, monotone prayer. So if you think of, go again to the secular world about what they talk about in meditation and bringing yourself to the present moment, the Rosary fits all of those needs. So when I have a client, obviously people say prayer and bedtime is the time that anxiety comes the most. I ask them to put on an audio Rosary and its because if you're an anxious person trying to pray the Rosary right you're almost too anxious that you're not praying it right...did I do 9 Hail Mary's...did I do 11? {laughing} Did I properly meditate..did I get this, right. And so I like this image of the rhythm of the Rosary being like Mary rocking you. So you can just go to sleep to like her rocking you at night. You can just listen to that prayer and know that she's there taking your fears away. And so it's the moment about being able to hand over her all your weeds. And just letting that repetitive calming part tell your animal brain, "I'm okay, we're safe...I know you're scared but actually Mary's got it."

Katie: I think that's so beautiful. And so for an audio Rosary we recommend we'll put down below. Definitely check out Hallow there's a free 30 day trial in the description. But I think to even just sitting around we've had the opportunity to pray some family Rosaries with the DiNuzzo family and to watch everybody in the room after a day has been busy, or crazy, or hectic, or stressful to the tone of the entire group just tend to have that breathing aspect and so it was a beautiful gift to get to experience that with your family preteen children and just the yawning....and just good signs of Mary just rocking us to sleep.

Drew: I was amazed at how our kids, who are at 4, 2 and 6 months old like hung with it you know they were there and they just kinda entered into it in a beautiful way.

Katie: That's beautiful.

Drew: Yeah, so thank you so much for those of you guys,

Katie: Yes, if you want to learn more about this I think that you've touch on some of the biology and...very top of how to handle our incorrect response...or like responding to the wrong stimulus of anxiety and how to do that better. Catherine has a 6 week course that I highly, highly recommend. Again Catherine is the only person I would trust with my mental health and she has inspired me to get my masters in counseling and just has been such an important person through that journey of healing and so if you want to learn more about this, to be proactive, to be able to live life in the reality that we all have an animal brain...every single one of us, can't control it {laughing} then I highly recommend checking that out. We'll put it down in the description as well.

Drew: Yeah, and so thank you all so much for joining us. We're praying for you all until next time...praying Rosaries for you until next time.

Catherine: Absolutely

Drew: God bless

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