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Practical Tips for Managing Anxiety and Healing Trauma as a High Achiever

Trauma was what other people had. 

That’s how Amy Van Slambrook had always felt until she had a wake-up call that changed everything. 

On the outside, she had a great career in the corporate realm. She had graduated as Valedictorian. She’d always been determined to live to her fullest potential. 

Behind the scenes, she was exhausted, working more hours than anyone should, isolated from her family, and battling eating disorders. 

Before her morning run, she got on the scale to weigh herself and realized she weighed the same weight as she had at 9 years old. 


That was the moment that woke her up. 

She realized she had to choose to continue down that path or choose life. 

She wanted to choose life, so she found a great therapist who helped her understand and embrace a word she had always felt very distant from: trauma. 

She had no idea how much past trauma was playing a role in her life. 

As high-achieving women, many of us think, “Well, nothing really bad has happened to me. I’m fine. I’ve got a great job, great education, and a great family.” 

On the outside, everything looks amazing, but on the inside, we know there’s something off

That is the unhealed trauma inside of us. 


Since her wake-up call, Amy started doing the deep work of healing her childhood wounds and past trauma. She’s now a licensed psychotherapist, certified life coach, and absolute ninja at helping high-achieving women heal at a soul, mind, and body level. 

She uses her story of nearly losing her life because of the impact of unhealed trauma to blend therapy, coaching, and leadership strategy to create a rare experience of transformation and healing. 

I sat down and asked her all kinds of questions, which you can hear in this full interview


One of the first questions I asked was: 

“How can not addressing trauma or healing your inner child affect your performance at your job? How does trauma present itself in your life unhealed?”


Here was her response: 

It's not subtle. That's the first thing. It may feel normal and like the way you've always done things - like perfectionism. That’s an inner child behavior. 

It causes chronic health issues like migraines, digestive issues, auto-immune issues, chronic fatigue… things that doctors look at and say, “It’s probably just stress. Try to work less, sleep more, and eat more healthily.”

We have poor boundaries around our time, our relationships, and the people we allow in. We pour into everyone around us, but no one is pouring into us. We overwork. We hydroplane through our lives. 

It shows up in our earnings and income. Everyone else is earning much more, and we keep hitting a ceiling. We want to say things at work, but we feel like we have masking tape over our mouth. 

We may feel numb and disconnected in our home life because it’s so hard to transition from being a powerhouse lawyer to being a powerhouse mom and then a sultry, powerhouse wife. 

Does any of this resonate with you? 


It definitely resonated with me, so I asked her: 

“How can we start in small ways to get on the healing journey?”


Here was her response: 

Ask yourself these simple questions: What am I feeling right now? What am I needing right now? 

It doesn't require anything external. You can ask it at your desk or wherever. Asking the question reconnects your brain to your body, and it reconnects you to your experience of your life. 

Asking those questions will start to help you connect with whatever comes up, whether it's hunger or needing a good cry. This is how you start to affirm your inner child so they know, “I'm not ignored. I'm here. I'm heard.” It's a step towards healing, because up until now, numbing has likely been the way that you've dealt with things


Here are a couple of other simple tools she gave for people to use: 

There are four questions you can ask if you feel yourself being triggered, whether that's an anxiety attack, panic attack, or even just an argument. These will help you get yourself out of that quickly until you're ready to do some deeper work. 


  • What am I feeling right now? 
  • When have I felt this way before? 
  • What did I need in that moment?
  • How can I get that for myself now?


If what you’re feeling doesn’t match the current circumstance, your brain is going back to the past. That’s why you ask yourself what you needed in that moment, as simple as it may have been. Maybe you just needed a hug. To get that for yourself now, you can ask your friend or spouse to give you a hug.

You can also hug yourself, which I know sounds really weird. I rolled my eyes too, as I'm sure many of you have just done, but it actually works. Putting your arms around your own arms physiologically calms the body. 

So those four questions are really easy to diffuse any kind of trigger, even if it's in an argument with a spouse or family member.

I loved my conversation with Amy. I felt like she gave us so many tools we can take and implement into our daily lives. 

We’re running so fast all the time. We need time to quiet our minds long enough to think, feel, and understand what’s going on with us. 


Amy and I ended our conversation with a list of her recommended resources for anyone who wants to learn more on this topic: 

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

Resilient by John Eldridge

The Garden Within by Dr. Anita Phillips

The Soaak App (use discount code AMY70)


My powerhouse friend, I hope this blog post was helpful for you. There are so many tools to help you get the healing you need to be the lawyer, friend, spouse, and parent you’ve always wanted to be. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me @eringerner or Amy @amyvanslambrook on Instagram. We’d love to connect with you. 

Cheering you on over here, as always!


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