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Reduce Anxiety And Stress Through Play With Charlie Hoehn

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Busy, anxious, stressed... For many of us, this is how we feel every single day. In fact, these feelings can become so normal, we forget there’s another way to live — even though our soul is crying out for change! Today’s podcast guest, Charlie Hoehn, knows this feeling all too well. After suffering from crippling anxiety for years, his life felt like one big ball of stress. But Charlie found a new way to live — one filled with fun, freedom and play. And today, he’s pulling back the curtains on how he got his life back… and how you can too.

Charlie Hoehn is an entrepreneur, speaker, marketer and author who’s worked side by side with heavy-hitters like Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi and Gary Vaynerchuk. His journey with anxiety started a few years back, when — despite being at the top of his game career-wise — he was overcome with chronic stress and worry, which left him exhausted, burnt out, in physical pain, and circling rock bottom.

Determined to end his suffering, and convinced that this was no way to live, Charlie came up with his own ‘recipe’ for a life well-lived — a formula that revolves around play, fun, and straight-up joy. He shared his system in the bestselling book, 'Play It Away: A Workaholic's Cure for Anxiety’, and has since gone on to help thousands of people around the world break free from anxiety, heal their stress naturally, and live a life they actually want to live.

He’s sharing his best strategies with us on the podcast today, so if you want to cure your stress, reclaim your joy and feel fully ALIVE again… this one’s for you.

In this episode we chat about:

  • His experience with debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, depression and burnout, and how he carved his own path to freedom (04:02)
  • The 4 common nutrient deficiencies that amplify anxiety (11:47)
  • His unusual and hilarious technique for stopping panic attacks (20:46)
  • His go-to hack for alleviating anxiety (22:19)
  • A step-by-step plan for healing anxiety without drugs (23:02)
  • How to decode your triggers (and how to remove the emotional charge around them) (26:07)
  • Stressing out? Use this powerful technique to turn your worries into background noise (35:08)
  • How to rediscover your sense of play as a adult (and how to experience true joy without any guilt) (40:12)
  • What play is to him (45:38)
  • Want more love in your life? Try this super effective (and so easy) technique (01:05:29)
  • Plus so much more!

Episode resources:

Charlie Hoehn’s Website
Play It Away by Charlie Hoehn
Play for a Living by Charlie Hoehn
Natural Calm Supplement
Play by Stuart Brown
Free to Learn by Peter Gray
Author Hour With Charlie Hoehn (Podcast)
Charlie Hoehn on Instagram
Open Wide by Melissa Ambrosini

Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I am honored that you are here and would love to hear your thoughts on the show, so please leave me a comment below (I read every single one). And if you loved this episode, please share it with someone you know will benefit, and on your social channels. You can also leave a 5-star review in iTunes or on your podcast app, that way we can inspire more people together.

P.S. Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.

P.P.S. If you’re looking for a high-impact marketing opportunity for your business and are interested in becoming a soul sponsor for The Melissa Ambrosini Show, please email pr@melissaambrosini.com for more details.

Comments (45)

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    • Ness
      May 10, 2018

      Hey Melissa,
      I have recently disocvered your podcast and found something positive in them all, this one with Charlie really opened my eyes in regards to play - i grew up in fear, i believe this is why i have pushed play out of my life as it reminds me of child hood trauma
      Of course every chld does play, so i have started the list, and i truly belive this will help!
      Thankyou , love hearing your positive voice on my morning walks

      • May 10, 2018

        Play is our most important work. I know for me when I am playing my life flows so much more effortlessly. Keep playing sista and please share your 'play list' with me once you're done. xx

    • Olivia
      May 10, 2018

      Thanks Melisa for another inspiring ep! Will be writing my amazon review!

      Here is my story for Charlie...
      I have just begun journaling and loved the guided tips that you had on noting down “what is stressing me out?” And “what am I grateful for because”. Once I got started the words started flowing and I was journaling for almost an hour!! Love your words

      Olivia

    • May 10, 2018

      Adore your podcast Melissa and as always I gobbled this one up eagerly as soon as it was made available.

      I run my own business, am a type A Aquarian and a soul parent to 2 and 5 year old beautiful busy boys. To say I relate to everything you’ve both discussed in relation to anxiety is an understatement! Life can be crazzzyy!

      But, thanks to Charlie’s wisdom, today was a brilliant day. I had Freddy my 2 year old at home with me and didn’t have to work for the first time in ages.

      Guess what we did all day long? We played. We made. We jumped in puddles. We laughed. We danced. We sang. We cuddled. We kissed. We were in the moment. It was tops and a reminder. Come back to the middle (as Nick would say Melissa) and just play.

      I’ll be buying your book Charlie.

      Thanks guys xxx

      • May 18, 2018

        Music to my ears Bel. I so wish I was jumping in the puddles with you both. Keep playing. xx

    • Catherine
      May 10, 2018

      Hi there!

      First of thank you for this podcast episode. I litterally pulled it up while I was having anxiety in the middle of the night and it proved to be comforting. As I have been struggling with anxiety for a few months and perhaps even years I have been trying all sorts of tools and things to appease myself. Since my teenage years I have been having eczema and to me it is very much related to anxiety amongst other things like nutrition and toxicity for sure.

      So basically over the last few months I decided to turn my life around - having had a breakup, moved back to my hometown after a year living abroad for my masters and having alcohol and food as coping mechanisms mainly - it was time I took responsibility!

      I did incorporate a lot of what you have discussed in the episode. Having seeked for help from a life coach and then more recently a naturopath and homeopath certifié doctor I have began a deep transformative journey. The methods that I used and still do today are meditation, yoga, clean and adapted nutrition, removing any toxic people and situation, my doctor helped me cut all stimulants ( I mean even cacao no jokes), as well as adding the B12, Omega 3 (removing the 6 as they are stimulants, fun fact) and loads of magnesium too, along with a deep detox and going back to what suits me and what have been key interests and passions ever since my childhood everything as made a HUGE difference and I am pretty certain that without those mechanisms and the help of holistic healers and podcasts like your Melissa I would not be here today. So everyday I try hard and I do better and I cannot wait to integrate play into it as well! I feel like being a Virgo I am a naturally playful one but because of a lot of traumas since childhood I have left play on the side and definitely saw the world as a prison and not a playground and I am so ready to get into play mode so really thank you for your inspiring podcast and please continue to share the work and knowledge as I feel that people benefi from it so much! I know that from my personal healing journey I have been able to create positive changes in people close to me so for sure your work is also exponential!

      Thank you so much !

      • May 18, 2018

        Thank you so much for sharing Catherine. I am so proud of you! Keep moving forward honey. You totally got this now. xx

    • May 11, 2018

      Melissa & Charlie thank you for an amazing podcast.

      I have definitely lost the PLAYTIME in my everyday life. Especially after having my 3 boys.

      I am stuck in a world of worry and protection about myself and them. It is really sad that I feel like I have to be the responsible one at ALL times to make sure we all stay safe.

      I had never really made the connection to a moment in my childhood and the impact it had on suppressing play in my life, until now!

      I know that I crave the feeling of freedom that play creates but feel scared to let go.

      I listen all of your podcasts Melissa however this one has really made me want to make a change in my life.

      Thank you once again love Amber x

      • May 18, 2018

        I am so glad Amber. Keep us posted oh how your play goes. We would love to hear. xx

    • Jane
      May 11, 2018

      I feel I could say this to just about every podcast you do Melissa, but I genuinely loved it!
      In some ways I wasn't expecting to take a lot away from this episode - I'm a fairly reserved & quiet person, and thought 'play'.......that's not really me, I'm just not the out going type.
      Then as soon as I heard Charlie speak, my ears pricked up - you are both so beautiful to listen to and I surprised myself that I could relate to such a lot!
      I've struggled with depression/anxiety on and off for several years and recently left a 30 year Banking career in favour of a 3 day a week job with a small family landscaping supplies business close to home where I can walk to work through beautiful countryside. It is great! I feel like I have just taken away a great big vote of confidence from this episode and the move was right.
      No competitiveness, unrealistic targets, bureaucracy, politics, 'box ticking' or appraisals - all of which felt so far removed from my truth. I agree that society almost conditions us that in order to be seen to 'work hard' we must be slaves to our desk for long periods. How liberating and refreshing your conversation was!
      I love that we already have everything we need and the universe provides. It certainly gave me the nudge I needed to take Voluntary Redundancy and start on a new path away from everything I struggled with.
      Now I'm trying to figure out the things which light me up to fill my days off so I can enjoy every moment and see what unfolds.
      Charlie talked about the exercise of writing down the things we naturally did happily in childhood before everything else got in the way. Wow! That makes so much sense...light bulb moment!
      I can't remember everything so will talk to my Dad, but I know I loved to dance, read, draw and hang upside down on the climbing frame! It doesn't matter if it as simple as playing catch - it doesn't have to be a full on extreme...brilliant!
      Not too sure about repeating hanging upside down as the thought now makes me feel dizzy, but drawing and maybe dancing (in private!) are my starting point. I haven't done either in years.
      Thanks so much to both of you for this and for being so very inspiring xx

      • May 18, 2018

        So glad it deeply resonated Jane. Enjoy dancing and drawing and I say go hang up side down just once sista. xx

    • Lena
      May 12, 2018

      Hey Melissa and Charlie!

      I loved listening to your conversation and I was taking so many notes! I was actually nodding my head the whole time because I resonated with so many things that were mentioned.

      My favorite tip was the journaling exercise about listing all the things that you did for play and pure enjoyment as a child. And then I immediately asked myself what of these things is available to me right now? And minutes later I found myself colouring some postcards that I will send across the globe now. I finished 3 beautiful postcards while I was listening to your conversation and I feel so calm and happy now. Thank you for reminding me of how much I used to love doing this.

      I would love to read your book, Charlie. Reading was actually what I wrote down as the second bullet point on my list but as a college student I often find myself making excuses for not wanting to spend any money on books or thinking 'I should rather be reading my textbooks'.

      Thank you again for the many insights!

      Love,

      Lena

      • May 18, 2018

        Hey Lena, books are my favorite things and you can always go to the library or swap with your friends in a book club. But you can't put a price on your growth. xx

    • Jo
      May 12, 2018

      Thank you Melissa and Charlie!
      I have become an avid listener of your podcasts Melissa and absolutely love them. I’ve also just finished Mastering Your Mean Girl and am part way through Open Wide. So much resonates with me in all you say and write and this podcast was packed full of inspiring words from both of you! As one of life’s worriers I struggle with leaving space for play and let relaxation and fun slip down the priority ladder all too often! Very hard for my playful partner! Since starting a magical morning routine including meditation for the first time ever I’ve noticed a huge difference in my outlook day to day and finding that space is becoming much easier!
      Thank you x

      • May 18, 2018

        So proud of you honey. Keep up the awesome work and don't forget to play play play every single day. xx

    • May 13, 2018

      Hi Melissa, thanks so much for another inspiring, comforting episode, Charlie sounds great. Here is my story for Charlie & you.
      I left my house in Spain when I was 23, looking for adventura, to work in Uk, this was 16 years ago, and It has been an amazing ride, or meeting gorgeous soul sisters, love stories, adventures, travel, and career progression. Now, about two years ago, I was in my comfort zone, in my shipping job, and I got the chance to leave all behind and decide what I wanted to do, this lead me to study Buying & Merchandising in the London College of Fashion. Coming out of my shipping comfort zone, made me feel stupid, old, innadecuate, not fitting, yet It has been the most rewarding experience and the happiest I have ever been proffesionallly, every day learning, meeting people, full of knowledge and experiences, and I realised after finishing and doing interviews for 6 months in London to the high street head office retailers: hang on, the high street DO NOT need me! small shops, and retailers who look at sustainable fashion do not have the access to a buyer. So Im starting to create my own business. There is a lot of mean girl in the process, and there has been in the past, a lot of anxiety and panic attacks and Im always welcome to see how others have or are coping with it. Thanks to you, I have created a morning routine of self love, and your self love meditation brough me to tears, only realising a little girl inside is still in much pain, which It only comes to light, when I am an adult, due to Childhood issues, which I mention proudly as they have made me the person I am today growing and evolving. I have made Charlie's list, very gratifying, and looking forward to come out again and again of the comfort zones in life, mastering my mean girl in the process. All the best, heading now to itunes to put a review. xxx Raquel

      • May 18, 2018

        Thank you so much for sharing and for the review Raquel I am so grateful and keep stepping outside that comfort zone angel. xx

    • Jaclyn Marie
      May 15, 2018

      I recently started listening to your podcast and I can’t stop! This one really hit home for me. When Charlie talked about his past, I felt like he was telling an exact story of my life right now. I ordered the Nature’s Calm supplement and have been implementing ‘play’ in my life the past week and have already seen some improvements in such a short time so can’t wait to try some of the other suggestions. I told some of my coworkers about the episode too and they listened and loved it, and plan to listen to your podcast in the future! Thank you for inspiring me and so many others every day! and now I have Charlie’s podcast to add to my subscriptions too :)

      • May 18, 2018

        Well done Jaclyn. I am so proud of you. What types of play things have you been doing each day?

    • Sarah
      May 15, 2018

      Thank you Charlie and Melissa. It was a timely podcast for me to listen too. I am a new graduate occupational therapist working in mental health rehab. It can be heavy work. I've been quite anxious in my new job, trying to do things well. But remembering the importance of play really resonated with me. Play therapy for children is common place but I really think we need it for adults more than ever. Myself included. My Self critical voice can step aside and inner goof ball, can roll on in. Please keep up your good work.

    • May 16, 2018

      This podcast has come at the perfect time for me...Thankyou!! I feel I had lost the art of play...having had children quite young and then studying my Naturopathy degree whilst they were little everything was planned, routines, knuckle down and hustle kind of thing...you know the drill...I burnt out and began to suffer from anxiety and depression. Of course as a Naturopath I began to take supplements, herbal tonics, dial in my diet, ensure 8-9 hours sleep each night...and still struggled. As a type A personality the pressure I had placed on myself to achieve the HUGE lists each day meant life had become one big chore! Recently we went camping on an isolated island in Great Barrier Reef, no tech, no lists, no work...nothing to do except PLAY with my gorgeous family. It reignited my fire for life! After listening to this podcast with both you beautiful souls I am more determined than ever to continue to play each and every day....it is my most important work Thanks Melissa and Charlie! Xx

    • May 17, 2018

      loved this episode so much, another one that i had to send to my partner right away!

      we are so blessed that the both of us are extremely playful, and we bring out the child in each other. not a day goes by that we are not cracking up and being silly- even after 12 years of being together. it is the secret to feeling young and alive in my opinion!

      i'm definitely going to make the list of my stress triggers so that i am aware, and make sure i always do daily self care practices to better equip me with the tools to relieve stress.

      i also just made a jar with colorful Popsicle sticks and on each stick is written a different play date idea for my partner and i. things like racket ball and building a fort in our living room.

      love you guys!!

      -mabes

      • May 18, 2018

        OH EM GEE, you two are the cutest!!! That is the best idea. I am going to tell my hubby and Leo so we can do it too. What else did you put on your popsicles?

    • Jodie
      May 17, 2018

      Hi Melissa and Charlie,
      Thank you for a brilliant episode which I’m going to listen to again. I have always been a worrier but developed OCD and severe anxiety in my early 20s and a worsening of symptoms after multiple traumatic pregnancies and births. I took antidepressants for almost a decade until the side effects and the slide into a deep depression became too much and they numbed me from any happiness in my life...my playful side had all but vanished. Life has continued to feel extremely stressful and as such I’ve manifested not only multiple chronic illness but financial distress as well, I’ve become stuck and feel caged and of course my body and inspiration for the future has too. I’m working everyday to challenge my mindset but that along with everyday life feels hard and laborious and devoid of play, I take everything so serious. When I listened to your podcast it was the second time in the one day that the topic of play came up, and it was like a light bulb moment...I have forgotten how to play, life has become a series of never ending seriousness and yet I have a very playful and joyful side of me that rarely sees the light of day. I’m grateful for hearing this podcast and think the list writing exercise really resonated with me, I can see how easily gratitude could be found in those stressful things if only I can change my mindset. Thanks again x

      • May 18, 2018

        Thanks for sharing Jodie and please share your play list with us when you are done. xx

    • Miranda
      May 17, 2018

      Hi Melissa and Charlie, thankyou for a beautiful episode. I found myself nodding as so many things the two of you said resonated with me. I am a big advocate for injecting moments of joy and play into my life but I realised during the episode that these days the activities I was doing for play were only ones that severed two purposes: being play but also helping further my work or education etc. They had an end goal rather than just being play for plays sake. As you can probably tell I am a Type A high-achiever like the both of you. So this week I decided to try something that would be completely just for me and just for fun. It wouldn’t serve a purpose other than enriching my soul. And so I went to my first Djembe drumming class. It was beautiful, playful and like being kid again.
      Thank you for the reminder of the importance of play for play’s sake. I have also begun injecting more small moments of play throughout my day to ensure that there is something playful and creative in everyday. Already it has helped me feel lighter and the tough time I am having, a little less dark. Thank you.

      • May 18, 2018

        WOW! That sounds so awesome Miranda and well done on taking inspired action. You're amazing! Keep going sista. xx

    • May 17, 2018

      Hi Melissa,

      I truly love all that you do and every week I send off links to your work to those that I think need it the most. Thanks for providing so much insight in such a calm and easy to understand manner. I have also included a link to this podcast in my first newsletter to subscribers today. I have no doubt they'll love it x

      • May 18, 2018

        Thank you so much for spreading the love Bridget, I am so graetful and so glad you are getting so much out of them. Keep listening sista. xx

    • April
      May 17, 2018

      Thank you Melissa for you and your amazing podcast and thank you for welcoming Charlie to the show. As soon as I saw the title of this podcast I just knew I needed to take some time out and listen to this. I'm 27 and have had my fair share of panic attacks so this topic was so relatable to me. As I am getting older I am learning to breathe through my attacks and they are becoming so much more manageable. I am not ashamed to admit this and I am 100% open about it - no one should ever have to hide their truth and struggles in life (We are all human). Whilst listening to the podcast and the topic of play, I absolutely had a light bulb moment when the question was asked "what do you do for yourself in terms of play?" and it was so unbelievably hard to answer that. I am now going to put a message on my mirror "In what way can I play in my life today?" so I can remember that I need to be less serious and be more in a state of playfulness towards certain areas of my life. Thank you again for this amazing podcast! I'll be sure to copy and paste this over to amazon! Much Love X

      • May 18, 2018

        Thanks for sharing April and what a great idea to write that on your mirror, I am going to do the same. Thanks for the inspo. xx

    • Lucy Butler
      May 18, 2018

      Hi after listening to this podcast I had so many thoughts, one was with the anchors that keep the anxiety at the forefront and it made me think of how I can better support my partners children. I knew that I had been too serious lately and had been talking about playing and laughing more, listening to this podcast and thinking about what I did for play when I was a child inspired me to look into dance and acting classes. I went to my partners place after work and I got our textas and paper and I started doodling after a while one after the other the children all joined me and we all had fun drawing together it was a wonderful play moment for the four of us. I’m definitely going to make play a priority every day even if it’s just a few minutes of fun. Dancing around the house, jumping on the trampoline, playing soccer, tennis and cricket. I have a list of things that I want to incorporate into my week. Thank you both x

    • Naomi
      May 31, 2018

      I got so much value from this podcast. My husband and I are both at the early stage of forming our own businesses and when we went to bed last night we had pillow talk about play being used in our plans for our future. It opened up a creative space and was so exciting. I also want to live by your goal Melissa, how much fun can I have and how kind can I be? I'm often so serious and ambitious that I unconsciously undervalue how transformative play is. Thank you

      • June 1, 2018

        Well done on opening wide and opening up that dialogue with your partner. Now it's time to take inspired action and play play play. xx

    • Megan
      July 20, 2018

      This episode spoke to me so very much. It has inspired me to do more! List my play history, list my stresses and go back and say why I’m grateful for them, everything really sat well with me in my heart and my chest (where I feel my anxiety). I can’t wait to try these things. Thank you Melissa and Charlie, you wonderful human beings.

      • July 21, 2018

        You're so welcome, honey. I am so glad it deeply resonated. Please share your 'play list' with us when you have created it. xx

    • July 24, 2018

      Melissa I am so glad I came across your podcast. The episode with Charlie completely turned my day around and therefore feel better equipped now to deal with recent bout with depression. It’s taken a lot out of me to discover what is truly missing from my life and love and play don’t have near big enough roles! But these are fundamental to health and well-being. I hope to help others someday once I can feel myself truly heal. Thank you for your help x

      • July 27, 2018

        So glad it deeply resonated honey and please don't forget to play today and every day. xx

    • September 6, 2018

      Charlie said that a lot of authors and creators don't know the power of their work. So just leaving a comment to let you both know I enjoyed the episode! Thanks for sharing :)

    • October 11, 2018

      WOW! I was directed to your podcast from a friend this morning and waited impatiently for my youngest son to go to sleep... well he took forever and let me tell you, it was worth the wait! I cannot thank you all enough. Not long after starting the podcast, I knew that this was something that would hit home! Like right there in the chest BANG! I now will be buying your books and following both of you podcasts. I am even going to be using the gratitude exercise with my other sons, finding out what they are thankful for and help them with their journalling, as one is very much like me ;) Thank you Charlie and Melissa (and Meagan for pointing me in the right direction) xo

      • October 12, 2018

        This is music to my ears honey. I am so glad it deeply resonated and you got so much out of it. Keep going sista. You got this. xx

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