Stephanie Dalfonzo is a coach helping women uncover and heal the stuff in their past, they do not even know that husband holding them back. She helps women fighting anxiety and stress and recently released her book, Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom, How to build resilience and overcome anxiety and we’re excited to introduce you to her today.  Especially during COVID when life is constantly stressful, she gives us coping mechanisms that we can use for stress when it’s not our PMS.

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Alice: Stephanie Dalfonzo is a coach helping women uncover and heal the stuff in their past, they do not even know that husband holding them back. She helps women fighting anxiety and stress and recently released her book, Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom, How to build resilience and overcome anxiety, which we definitely all need especially right now.

Stephanie: Yes.

Alice: I took a class with Stephanie and I was able to apply her ideas right after. My boyfriend and I missed her train upstate and instead of yelling at him for dawdling. I was able to use her techniques to stay calm and control my emotion which is why I am so excited to have her on today. Stephanie is a woman of many careers and talents. Her first career was in the 80s and 90s as a celebrity DJ Steve Nochs in Florida. She then opened a hypnosis office which he operated for over 10 years and now she is helping women with anxiety. We are so excited to have you on today. Welcome, Stephanie.

Stephanie: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love that you took something from the class and immediately applied it. That is my greatest joy is when, oh, okay, let me take this and apply it immediately instead of I have talked about self help, shelf help because we get all these books and programs and then we put them on our saggy shelves and do not do anything and then wonder why nothing changes.

Alice: Yes. Well, I loved what you were saying because you had all these quick tips to apply that day. Like the square breathing, I have been doing that whenever I felt anxiety and no one knows that I am doing it.

Stephanie: Right.

Alice: Just for me.

Stephanie: The square breathing or other people might have heard it as box breathing is hands down one of my client’s favorites. So many people go, “Oh, yes, that is my favorite.” My husband heard me saying that on a podcast one time and he goes, “That is my favorite breathing technique too.”

Alice: Amazing.

Stephanie: If I can, let me just guide your listeners through it right now. So they can experience it. Okay. It is so simple, you can trace a square on your leg or in the air or on the table in front of you and we are just going to go around a square box and then do not do it this time. Let me explain it and then I will guide you through it. Inhale, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Exhale, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four, and the hold is the key. The hold is what helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the rest digestion relax system. That is the one we want to keep activating over and over and over again. I used to say many times a day about in the state of the world that we are living in now. We need to activate that several times an hour, right? So let us do a couple rounds, okay.

Inhale, two three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Exhale, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Inhale, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Exhale, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Inhale, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Exhale, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four, and then let your breath come back to its natural rhythm. When you watch this video later, I want you to see what transpired in your face, you just immediately shifted into bliss. When we can experience that in the midst of this insane times were living in, like that is, first of all that helps us stay healthy and after what you went through, I do not know if I am outing you and cut this out…

Alice: Our listeners.

Stephanie: Okay.

Alice: About my time with Covid.

Stephanie: Yes. So, you more than any of us realize how incredibly important it is to be doing everything we can to be healthy and stress causes disease, right? Never heard it that way. Disease, right? Right, but when you think about it, it is disease in your physical body, right? So we want to be interrupting that. That is why I have 35 different techniques in my book. Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom not because you have to learn all of them, but because when you find three or four that really work for you, you are so much more likely to continue to do them again and again and again and again. If I said, I talk to a reporter a couple weeks ago about people starting yoga practice or Tai Chi practice or meditation practice now and I am on my mat every single day. I am a devout yoga. I am also a certified yoga teacher among the many hats that I wear. I know I yoga is what is getting me through these times. I said, “You know what? If somebody does not have a practice in place, asking them to commit to a one hour yoga class or one hour Tai Chi class is too big to reach.”

Alice: That it could be a lot.

Stephanie: Right. So, oh, okay, if we can do square breathing and that takes what may be a minute. You are much more likely to do it.

Alice: Thank you so much for guiding us through with that. How did you come to be an anxiety and stress coach? Where did that figure in?

Stephanie: Okay. So halfway, the first half of my life. I thought it was normal to wear my shoulders like earrings, you know up at my ears and constantly worry about everything. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Not just worrying about everything but worrying about everything to the absolute worst possible outcome. When my kids were little my husband traveled a lot. He, oh, my gosh. What if the plane crashes? Oh my gosh, and he dies and then what am I going to do? What if what– like this is what I thought was normal until you mentioned my radio career. My last job was doing the morning show out in Portland, Oregon and I developed incredible insomnia. I had two small kids. My son was still in diapers. I was getting up at three-thirty in the morning and one day I just lost it. Everything was just, anything would set me off and I found myself in my kitchen, smashing the bag of cheetos. My kids like, “Oh, my gosh. Mommy, please stop.” Because this was treasurer junk food for them. I was like, “Okay. I need help here.” I went to the doctor, got medication for the insomnia and the doctor said, “Well, you know, the insomnia is connected to the anxiety.” I was like, “What!” I did not know I had struggled with anxiety my entire life.

Alice: Wow.

Stephanie: So I got medication and it worked for a short time and then it stopped. So I started researching all things anxiety and this was back in the mid-90s, so there was not a lot of research and I have– Google was not even around yet. Right, right. You are like my kids age.

Alice: A library.

Stephanie: Right. You have not known a world without Google, right? It is always…

Alice: Even at the library you type in where is this book. We do not go through that like index of cards.

Stephanie: Right, right. So I was going and there really was not a lot of research, but I stumbled upon. I have a really wonderful Mac of just living in the moment so that things come to me when I need them. I stumbled upon EFT which is Emotional Freedom Techniques or tapping. It is an energy technique where you tap on specific points of your body and it helps to take away cravings, it helps to take away stress and anxiety. It is an amazing, amazing technique. You know, Gary Craig was first rolling that out, right when I was having this anxiety meltdown and God I learned that it could help me sleep. It could learn to help me calm down. So that was the end of my radio career because then we moved cross-country to Connecticut where I live now and I am about an outside hour and a half outside New York City. So here I was this big shot celebrity radio DJ and I landed in this Podunk town in Connecticut where they paid minimum wage to be on the radio or I can have somebody else raise my kids and get a job in New York City. I was like, “No, my family came first.”

So I was doing this EFT tapping and I am trying to tell everybody, oh my gosh. He was so, his eyes are glazing over like, “What are you on?” Right. So then my husband got sick and he went into liver failure, 12 to 15 times before he had a thankful successful liver transplant. Again, now I am worried like, oh my gosh, what if he dies and I do not have a career and what am I going to do with these kids? So, oh I could go to school to be a life coach on the computer and again, you do not understand this Alice because you have never known a world without that but that was cutting edge technology back then.

So I started going to school to be a life coach and I saw that in the EFT world a lot of people who were in EFT world also in hypnosis. So I got curious and I went and trained with a brilliant woman in New York City and became a certified hypnotist and I was astounded. Day one, change can happen like that. Oh, my gosh, I felt like the heavens are open and I finally knew what my purpose in life was. So I call myself an integrative hypnotist because I use hypnosis but I use so many different modalities. I kind of have my own little secret sauce now, where it is not like when I trained with her. She said, you are going to find out that most hypnotists or reading from a script, but they have the paper inside a page protector. So you do not hear when they turn it over and she said I am not going to teach you that way because one size does not fit all and your client is going to give you everything you need for the script. So I know how to draw out what is going to help us get to the root cause of whatever the issue is. I have got a currently working with two golfers and somebody for emotional eating, somebody for fear of highway driving and so– all right, so I have got two golfers at the same time, if I read the same script to them, it might help them, but there each of their issues is going to be something else.

Alice: Yes.

Stephanie: So before I was done with my hypnosis practice, she had never seen somebody do this. I was like, I knew what I was supposed to do in life. I rented an office. I had a website. Again, this was back in 2004. So, whoa, I had a website. I had brochures and business cards, which that was the old school way of doing back then and I did not look back. So literally, I just like and I was in the black from the beginning because I knew that this was what I was supposed to do. Long before, anybody was talking about the law of attraction.

When I was 14 years old, I knew I was going to be a celebrity radio DJ and you might not even know what this is Alice. Do you know what hitchhiking is?

Alice: Yes. Yes.

Stephanie: Okay. Okay. All right. Well, not many people do it anymore so I do not know you know, but so…

Alice: Look good.

Stephanie: Yes. Back in the 70s, when I was 14 years old, I would hitchhike. We lived in the country, I would hitchhike to the train station to take a train to downtown Philadelphia and go hang out the radio station with the DJ’s.

Alice: Wow.

Stephanie: So, I made it happen, right? So then I really have the skies open up and tell me yes. I have really found what I am meant to be doing in this lifetime with hypnosis. I open a practice and the clients came.

Alice: Can you explain to me what hypnosis is? I think for me, I really know it from like cartoons and this like clock that is going back and forth. What is hypnosis? What it is for our viewers?

Stephanie: Right. So guess what? You have been in hypnosis many times in your lifetime.

Alice: What? Fantastic.

Stephanie: Yes. We all are in and out of hypnosis all the time because it is simply a focused state of attention, a focused state of awareness. Now, with your theater background, you will understand this. When you are in a movie theater or you are in a theater- theater with live actors and they want you to cry, you start tearing up or they want you to jump and you jump in your seat, for that moment in time you are in the moment. You are so focused on what is going on that you are not aware that you are in a movie theater or in a theater-theater, right?

Alice: Always our goal as an artist to create that moment.

Stephanie: Yes. Yes. It is hypnosis, right? If you have ever been driving somewhere and you get there and you do not remember the drive. It is called highway hypnosis. When my daughter was 16 years old, she came home from driver’s eve one night going, “Mom, we talked about highway hypnosis tonight. So what it means is, you are not falling asleep. A lot of people think you go under, when you are in hypnosis and it is not that at all. It is then we are accessing the subconscious mind, which is where our power is. Our conscious mind is about ten percent of our brain, ninety percent is the subconscious mind. So when we are driving somewhere which they were driving to work and we get there and we do not remember the drive. It was because our conscious mind was off chewing over the fight that you had with so and so last night and your subconscious mind which is always on, has you driving safely.

Alice: Wow. That is so interesting. That happens to me all the time.

Stephanie: Okay. So, yes. Again, there are so many misconceptions because all the stuff on TV and movies, it is meant to be entertainment and stage hypnosis. It is meant to be entertainment and thankfully for the stage hypnotist because there was a period of time where there was such a backlash against hypnosis is years and years back. The stage hypnotists are the ones who kept it still going until it could come back into a resurgence.

Alice: Wow.

Stephanie: I was trained as a stage hypnotist but it was like, that is not me, I do not want to just make people laugh and have fun. I am here to make a difference in the world. I truly believe, the fact that I wrote this book, two and a half years ago and I told you before we started recording that from I heard a whisper in January of 2018, write the book. From that whisper until the publication date was 60 days. That is unheard of.

Alice: It is insane. Yes, how can you get a book out in 60 days?

Stephanie: You know what? I cannot even tell you because I look back on that now and I am like, how did I do that? I believe in divine guidance and so, I know to hear that whisper. Now, so interesting that a year before that whisper, I had seen a targeted Facebook ad and the tagline was Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom. I was like, that is a great URL and so I had bought the URL.

Alice: Wow.

Stephanie: Yes, and then a year later. Yes.

Alice: Oh, that is awesome. Wow. Since you are into like stress and anxiety, what can we be doing now? We need to read your book obviously.

Stephanie: Yes. Which is available on Amazon.

Alice: Perfect.

Stephanie: So the book is intentionally thin. It is like a hundred pages and that is it. Because if you were not stressed and anxious before now, you are now. This was just so sad for me to say this that express scripts said that prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication rose thirty-four point one percent in one month. That was mid February to mid March. Here we are now in July and it is only gotten worse and worse. So if I hand you a 400 page book on how to say Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom. You are going to freak out, right? If I pull out this thin book and say, “Hey, guess what. I only want you to read the very first two short-short chapters and then peruse the rest of the book because the techniques are in alphabetical order, specifically so you do not have to read the whole book. Right. I want you to just peruse through the book and find a couple of things. What is right, right now? What is that about? Well, Alice, what is right, right now? No. What is right, right now?

Alice: Actually asking.

Stephanie: Yes.

Alice: You know, I am with my boyfriend, we were apart for so long because I was so sick. Then also I left for California because I was really scared of the city, but I have come back to New York and it feels a lot safer, I have a lot less anxiety about being here. Because everyone is taking it seriously wearing masks. So I think that is what is right, right now is getting back into my routine of life in New York.

Stephanie: Yes. So that is one of the techniques and you can actually do this with your boyfriend. Hey, what is right, right now? I am healthy. I am safe. I have food in the pantry and this is something I want your viewers to understand that you can do this with your girlfriends, you can do this with family members. If you have kids play this game with the kids because it is so easy. It goes hand in hand. Again, this is one of the techniques for my book and other one is to take a digital time out. We are on our phones and our computers all the time now and bombarded with every day. Their saying it is even worse every day. It is worse and worse and worse. So when we are constantly connected to that, we have to take a break from it. So, okay. Wait. Wait, what is right, right now? I am having a great conversation with you and I am healthy and my dog is here snoring and I have food in the pantry.

So when we can start the overall principle that I would really love your viewers to understand is, however you do it, you need to find times to take breaks from the stress and anxiety. Our hearts, take a rest between every beat, right? So think about that. Our hearts beat and rest and beat and rest. Collectively, globally it is as if we all have our foot on the accelerator for the sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight flight or freeze, which I think most people say fight or flight, but I really have been emphasizing the freeze because I think mid March, you were really at the beginning of the wave in our country and in our city. Mid March, I think is when collectively whether I do not know if it was just as us as Americans or if it was more global, but into that freeze mode and people just, I think in our part in the Northeast, I think that we started to breathe a little sigh of relief and then we started seeing what is happening in the rest of the country in horror and aghast. People have gone back into that and so it is so-so important and again, I could have never realized when I wrote that book. How desperately we would need it today. So, I am not trying to hock my book and I am certainly not going to get wealthy, selling a paperback book on Amazon. People need this, they need this. So again, I am not trying to pump up the sales but…

Alice: Your techniques were so useful and so helpful. It is something that we all need and I think you are right. This is all these tips for anxiety and stress are particularly at play right now in our country.

Stephanie: Yes. Well and one of my current clients, her friend mailed her a copy of my book and then that is how she came to work with me. So right and so the thing that you do not know about the book is I have an initiative that for every book I sell, every paper book I sell, I donate one to school organization that will teach emotional skills to kids. Because long before Covid, I had been saying for years and years and years, long before I wrote the book was we need to be teaching kids the skills. We do not teach them how to manage their emotions and we need to and I was saying this long before Covid and then Covid hit and kids are home with their parents who are newly trying to work from home and homeschooler kids the same time. Every, the whole family is stressed and most of the techniques in the book are simple enough to teach a six-year-old.

Alice: That is great. Oh, that is wonderful that you are donating some of those books.

Stephanie: Well, it is in the model of TOMS Shoes and bomba socks. Oh, all right, so TOMS Shoes. Oh, my gosh, you have to go look this up. You go came up with them and with bomba socks, they have this. We sell one, we donate one. TOMS Shoes is, they are donating shoes to people in…

Alice: Oh, the shoes. I thought it was another book. I was like, “Oh, I do not know this book.”

Stephanie: No, no, no and then bomba socks.

Alice: Oh, I did not know that they did that too.

Stephanie: Yes, they do.

Alice: That is really cool.

Stephanie: Yes. So, I think that, when we receive a lot, we need to share that and that is just who I am. It is you know.

Alice: Yes. So you have had your hand in so many different aspects and parts of the world. What is next for you? What is next after Covid?

Stephanie: So I think, I would like to hope that I become– you know and this is what I am working towards. I become recognized thought leader because you know from the class that you took with me. I am a teacher at heart, right? I really believe that I, my entire life has been prepping me to be a leader in this moment to shine the light on hope and possibilities and that we cannot just survive. Covid we can thrive through it. So if any of your listeners, your viewers could bring me into their companies to in negotiation with the company right now, from somebody who had been on my class.

Alice: Wow.

Stephanie: To go in and teach their employees these. Because as a culture, if an entire team is on the same page and I teach a handful of different techniques and can you imagine, if you start a meeting, first of all, if you have got leaders from the top down in on this, right? Okay, let us start by going around, going around the table in the old days, going around the screen those days. Everybody say, “What is right, right now?” Get everybody focused on what is right, right now instead of panicking because oh my gosh, I am going to be called back and I do not have an assigned desk and whose going to have been sitting at that desk and oh my gosh, I am going to have to use the public restroom. You know, instead of starting out with that energy, if you as a group, start out with okay, let us do square breathing or let us do what is right, right now or I do not have a little Zen chime, but let us just start with a Zen chime. It is going to set the tone for something so different, right?

Another one. I talked so much about this is gratitude, right? To really come to, that is part of what is right, right now is for gratitude because when we feel gratitude. Shawn Achor is a happiness researcher. That is his job. Is that cool?

Alice: Cool. Yes.

Stephanie: He has shown, his done research and proven that when we experience gratitude, we get our bodies to produce the happy hormones, serotonin and dopamine which are what is found in synthetically in certain medications that I mentioned earlier.

Alice: Yes.

Stephanie: Right. So get up in the morning, write in your journal, and I am talking hand right not on a screen. It wires it in our brain a different way, so old school, but I got the research to back it up now.

Alice: Perfect.

Stephanie: So write down. I write thank you with one exclamation point Thank you! Two exclamation points. Thank you! Three exclamation points, and then I am so grateful for and the three things that I am grateful for. Some mornings, it is going to be really grateful. I remember to brush my teeth last night and that is okay. It is building that habit so that you build that gratitude habit. Neuroscientist talk about neurons that wire together fire together and my eyes used to glaze over but now I like really geeky about this because I get it. So when we have an experience, certain neurons wire off together. When we have the similar experience, same thing happens and again and again and again and so that is great when we are learning something new. When we are learning how to play an instrument or how to play a sport. It is great for that.

However, when we experience trauma, whether its capital T trauma or small T trauma that same thing happens, over and over and over again, and so that is why, I like this person I am working with the fear of highway driving. I will guarantee that when I get to the root cause, it is going to be something from her childhood. That is very insignificant. One person years ago was they were in the backseat of their parents car like five years old and the father had a panic attack and had to pull over and switch seats with the mother and then so the mother continued to drive. Well, that series of neurons kept firing off and firing off until they could not drive anymore. So yes. So we want to start building up these new neural pathways of gratitude so that rather than, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, it said. You know either worse today, even worse today. We started firing off. Oh, I am grateful for this, I am grateful for this and it is training us to look for gratitude.

Alice: That is wonderful. That is something I definitely need to do and implement. I love that idea of doing it every day.

Stephanie: Yes.

Alice: To get into that habit.

Stephanie: Yes.

Alice: So Stephanie, how can people get in contact with you so they can your book on Amazon. Book about amazing website.

Stephanie: Oh, thank you. Thank you. It is my name Also look at It is a picture says a thousand words, the pictures of 19 year old Sarah, who had a crippling fear of flying. You will see on this page. There is a picture of her, co-piloting a small plane. There is a picture of her, skydiving out of an airplane and Sarah who I think when we work together and she was at NYU and I think she had a business major or something. Oh, she went on to create her own very successful business as the 5 foot traveler. She has traveled all seven continents over a hundred forty countries and you will see on her home page that she conquers fear as mine. On her home page of our website, she says, “I had a crippling fear of flying.”

Alice: Wow.

Stephanie: Then I just updated the page the other day because I checked in with her in mid March, as Covid swept the globe. I checked in with her to see how she was doing because she was quarantined in Norway, and I know there are worse places to be quarantined but to quarantine half a world away from your family.

So she was quarantined there. The flights kept getting cancelled. She was quarantined for 14 days when she got back home before she could go to her family and I checked in with her and I said, “How are you holding up?” She goes, “I am doing well because I am still using the techniques that you shared with me all those years ago.” So I share that with you and your viewers to understand that this is not do the square breathing once an you going to have this wonderful balance. It is not going to happen, right? It is not going to happen. Do I do my practices every single day? Yes. That is why I am a– you know, I have had three bad days. We are in what month for, I am losing track of all this. I have had three bad days since March. That is it. Right.

Alice: I need to work on that.

Stephanie: Well, and you know what? I know you are probably still somewhat in recovery mode because that was just such a horrendous toll on you physically and I am sure emotionally as well. Something I noticed was the three bad days that I had. I was not moving my body as much and so that is something for all of us to take note of. I am blanking on the name, the Latin root for emotion, whatever it is means energy in motion. So when we are not moving our bodies, our emotions get stuck. So whether it is walking in place, walking on apartment, getting up to stretch every in a couple of times an hour. It is absolutely crucial for us to keep our bodies in motion, to keep our emotions flowing.

Alice: That makes sense. My boyfriend and I bought a stationary bike at the start of March or whenever I got better. We do it every day and you can tell if you do not do it that day, I feel like so much more anxious and straight.

Stephanie: Right, right. So I would encourage all of your viewers to just start where you are, if you do not have any motion going on, do not say, “Oh, I exercise my body for an hour.” That is not going to happen, right? Okay, I can do five minutes. I can walk in place for five minutes. I mean, I am blessed. I live out. I live out. It is not necessarily the country, but it is beyond the suburbs. So I have a beautiful reservoir and I live one house away from. So I can go up there and walk out there as much as I want. There is lots of space so I do not have to wear the mask the whole time and I realize I am very, very blessed for that. I am very, very grateful for that. When it first started I was not getting up to the reservoir as much but I would and I started tracking my steps on my phone and I would just stand in place and walk in place and my husband was like, well, that is not the same. Well, yes, it is. You are still moving your body.

Alice: Yes, perfect. Thank you so much, Stephanie. Is there anything else you would like to add to our listeners today?

Stephanie: Just start where you are. Start where you are, without judgment, without beating yourself up. Just whoa, what is one thing. Just one thing, I can implement to start moving on the path to more emotional balance, more emotional freedom.

Alice: Thank you so much, Stephanie for being on today.

Stephanie: Thank you, Alice. This was a really lovely conversation.

Alice: Yes. It was such a pleasure to get to talk to you again. So thank you for everything.

Stephanie: Thank you.

About the author

Alice Cash is the Marketing Manager for Jubilance by day and an award winning Theatre Director by night.  Leading the podcast Weekly Woman, she loves her candid conversations with women from all over the world about how they live and the amazing things they are doing to make a difference. Alice is also the editor of the bi-monthly newsletter the Jubilee, a blog dedicated to the power of female wellness especially concerning menstruation.  She’s worked in France creating theatre pieces and taught drama and filmmaking to women and children in Haiti.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds two master degrees from NYU and The New School.  Alice has traveled to  40+ countries, including Tibet.  She is a New Yorker and can often be found in Central Park, searching out the best bubble tea, or directing a play, you never know where she’ll show up. @alicesadventuresinwonderworld
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