Can Awareness Help Us Unwind Anxiety? with Dr. Judson Brewer

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Anxiety might mean different things to different people, but one commonality is the literal feeling of being wound up and tangled. 

The brain is always looking for information to try to predict the future, in order to keep us safe. While this may have been helpful when we were trying not to starve and dodging large predators, in modern times it can cause us to spiral into anxiety and worry.

Today on The Broken Brain Podcast, Dhru talks to Dr. Judson Brewer about the patterns involved with anxious thinking, how they also relate to addiction, and mindfulness exercises that can help us break free.

Dr. Brewer is an internationally renowned addiction psychiatrist and neuroscientist. He is an associate professor in the School of Public Health, and Medical School at Brown University.  His 2016 TED talk, “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit,” has been viewed over 16 million times. He has trained Olympic athletes and coaches, government ministers and business leaders. His first book, The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love, Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits, was published in over 16 languages.

In this episode, Dr. Brewer explains how positive and negative reinforcements shape our behavior and why humans evolved this way. Anxiety and addiction are both heavily dictated by this push and pull of behavior—Dr. Brewer tells us why embracing the feelings we often want to run away from and bringing greater awareness to our habits is the first step towards changing them. 

In this episode, we dive into:

  • How anxiety gets wound-up (1:44)
  • Dr. Brewer’s experience with anxiety and panic attacks (10:44) 
  • How panic attacks can turn into panic disorders (13:52) 
  • The connection between anxiety and addiction (18:03)
  • Mindfulness training for smoking cessation (25:01)
  • Why awareness is the first step in overcoming anxiety (32:35)
  • The connection between blood sugar imbalance and anxiety (40:32) 
  • The global pandemic and anxiety (46:04)
  • Mind-mapping exercise for unwinding anxiety (49:17) 
  • How to use the Unwind Anxiety app (58:32)

For more on Dr. Brewer you can follow him on Instagram @Dr.Jud, on Facebook @MindSciencesInc, on Twitter @JudBrewer, on YouTube @DrJud, and through his website Get his book, Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind here.

Also mentioned in this episode:

For more on Dhru Purohit, be sure to follow him on Instagram @dhrupurohit, on Facebook @dhruxpurohit, on Twitter @dhrupurohit, and on YouTube @dhrupurohit. You can also text Dhru at (302) 200-5643 or click here.

Interested in joining Dhru’s Broken Brain Podcast Facebook Community? Submit your request to join here.

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Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD


Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.


If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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