Anxiety Expert Dr. Tracey Marks Gives Us Practical Advice To Stop The Daily Doom-Scrolling

War in Ukraine, inflation, political elections, lingering COVID strains. There’s enough going on throughout the world to drive anyone into a constant state of anxiety. But psychiatrist and mental health expert Dr. Marks and her new book, ‘Why Am I So Anxious?’, is equipping us with the tools and coping tricks so needed in our anxiety-ridden culture.

As seen in Essence Magazine, on Katie Couric Media, and on local news stations like Good Morning Washington, Dr. Marks helps us navigate the fallout from our high anxiety, whether it’s caused by news of school shootings or personal relationships, with tools from aromatherapy to grounding techniques. She broadcasts to over a million followers weekly on her YouTube channel and is a general and forensic psychiatrist of over 20 years. She believes that insight creates change, both on a micro-level (personal growth) and a macro-level (reduction in fear and social judgment).

If you are feeling like the world is getting on top of you and you need some guidance or tools to navigate through your anxiety, read on below for our chat with Dr. Marks, and check out some of her social media content which we HIGHLY recommend you subscribe to.

When did you begin writing ‘Why Am I so Anxious’, and what was the spark for this book?

I started thinking about writing something on anxiety about half-way through 2020 when our heads were still spinning around COVID. People watching my YouTube videos periodically asked if I had written information to supplement the videos. Then, the true spark came from my publisher who approached me about writing an anxiety book.

You have been working in the mental health space for over 20 years. How has awareness changed about this big topic throughout your career? 

Awareness has evolved dramatically since I began my career. When I started out as a psychiatrist, mental health was still something you whisper about and deny having an issue with. Gradually, prominent people started coming forward and discussing their experiences. This helped other, non-famous people come out of the shadows and not feel so alone. I think the biggest impact on awareness and acceptance has been social media. You have the propagation of educational content like I produce, but you also have many people sharing their lived experiences. I’d go so far as to say TikTok and Gen Z have almost made it trendy to have a mental health problem.

The pandemic brought mental health to the forefront of many peoples’ minds and it made us realize that this is an issue so many of us deeply care about. What was it like for you as a psychiatrist during this time? 

I became SUPER busy during 2020 and early 2021. I had to force a pause on seeing new patients and doing consultations because my day was jammed with back-to-back appointments. Now the pressure to work is still hard because the need for mental health care has increased and yet I am saying, “no I can’t see you.” I feel bad about contributing to the doctor shortage, but I have to remind myself that I have needs too and I’m not 30 anymore. I do feel fortunate that because of my specialty, it was easy to make my practice virtual.

Can you share with us anything about your own mental health journey, and how this impacts the work you do? 

Being too busy professionally, managing pandemic issues, and caregiving for elderly parents, almost pushed me over the edge into burnout. Although producing mental health content on Youtube is like an extra-curricular activity, it gives me tremendous satisfaction. If offsets the cynicism that has creeped in around certain aspects of my profession. 

Your latest book delves into the different aspects of anxiety, from the personal to the political. How do major events like a new president being elected, school shootings, a war erupting, or a global pandemic, play a role in how we deal with anxiety? 

All these things are examples of external stressors. Stressors can make anyone feel anxious as a reaction, but they don’t necessarily produce a pathological anxiety disorder. But for some, the sheer number of stressors can have the cumulative effect of causing more persistent, life-disrupting anxiety. These major events affirm the need for all of us to have healthy coping skills and a set of personalized tools that we use to manage stress and anxiety.

What are some of your most popular go-to techniques to deal with anxiety?

I LOVE my weighted blanket. Weighted blankets use the concept of deep pressure touch to calm and relax your mind. I sleep with it, but I sometimes use it to cuddle under while I watch television. I like using laughter (comedy shows) as a way to destress. My favorite comedy shows are Frasier, Key and Peele, and Saturday Night Live. For the ultimate wind down, I will sit under my weighted blanket and watch one of these shows while diffusing an essential oil like chamomile or neroli (both relaxing essential oils).  

@drtraceymarks Sttess and anxiety look similar. Here’s the difference. #stressrelief #whyamianxious @penguinrandomhouse #dkbooks #whyamisoanxious ♬ original sound – Dr Tracey Marks

Does in-person therapy work as a one-size fits all for everyone, or are there other tools we can use on an everyday basis from the comfort of our home? 

Therapy is not a one-size fits all as there are so many different types of therapy to address different issues. Similarly, the strategies and techniques you can use for anxiety are varied and help different problems. My book, “Why Am I So Anxious,” teaches you how to use over twenty different tools (not including medication and herbal remedies). These are tools you can use from the comfort of your home. The key is figuring out what tools work for you and when to use them.

Millions of subscribers and followers on your social media channels turn to you for advice every day. How has social media become an effective way to connect with more people about mental health and the work you do?

I love having the opportunity to reach people beyond my office and help them understand mental health topics. I’ve gotten lots of feedback from people about how the information has helped them understand themselves and improve their lives. That kind of feedback keeps me producing content even when my life seems too busy to do it.

@drtraceymarks Seven ways to identify how to know what to do with life . #tipsforhappylife #improveyourlife #learnontiktok #drtraceymarks ♬ original sound – Dr Tracey Marks

Why is it important that all of us pay attention to our mental health, whether we think we need to or not? 

Your mental health is central to your entire body health and wellbeing. Your brain controls everything from your eyeballs down. It’s like that saying, “if mom isn’t happy, no one is” or “a happy wife, a happy life.” If you neglect your mind/brain, you’re in for a rocky ride.

Which chapter in your book do you recommend reading when it comes to dealing with anxiety about what is happening in our culture? 

The first four chapters of the book talk about reasons you experience anxiety. Chapters 5-10 talk about what you can do for your anxiety. For more insight on how life situations affect you, read the section on existential anxiety, which is at the end of chapter three. Existential anxiety is not the same as anxiety from cultural events, but there may be enough overlapping information that you can apply to the state-of-the-world issues.

Get a copy of ‘Why Am I So Anxious’ by clicking HERE, and follow Dr Tracey Marks on Youtube and TikTok for more daily mental health and wellness content.

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