3 Benefits of Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders have become the most prevalent mental health issue in America. It’s not uncommon to hear about people in your inner circle suffering from one form or another of anxiety which include but are not limited to conditions such as social anxiety, GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)r, claustrophobia (fear of small confined spaces), and more.

However, as common as this problem is, it is highly treatable – with a number of different treatment options for anxiety available the most effective of which is psychotherapy.

The top three benefits of therapy – behavioral and cognitive – for anxiety disorders include:

Finding the Root Cause

Prescription medication is thought to be the best course of treatment for patients suffering from anxiety disorders as it can produce an immediate reduction of anxiety by relaxing the body. However, as quick the results may be, it is a temporary form of treatment. What’s more, prescription pills only subdue the symptoms of the disorder rather than finding and treating the root cause of the illness itself – which is what psychotherapy does. Therapy, tailored to suit the specific needs of each individual patient allows them to discover the actual source of the problem, which often is based in how a person thinks about their world, environment or situations.  Therapy helps decrease anxiety, by helping you learn new ways of monitoring and changing thoughts that may be leading to panic attacks or feeling anxious.

Aiding in Self-Discovery for Solutions

Much of the psychotherapy is designed to allow the patient to unearth the real reason behind the issues. Once they do, the therapist helps and guides them to realize the effective ways in which they can manage and control their thoughts and behaviors.  Therapy doesn’t provide a solution to their issues on a silver platter, it aids the patients to find out the means to deal and to eventually overcome their anxiety. This can provide tools and resources for the future to help reduce likelihood of experience anxiety in other situations.

Restoring Confidence

Anxiety disorders can sometimes cripple ones confidence. By allowing self-reflection, and providing deeper understanding of their own thoughts and feelings, therapy helps restore a patient’s confidence bit by bit. It enables them to have the knowledge, skills, and control over their thoughts, feelings and behaviors, which can help them live a happy and healthy life.

5 Benefits of Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy for Anxiety

Anxiety is not limited to just being fretful, agitated, or worried about something trivial. Anxiety disorders such as OCD, PTSD, social anxiety or GAD are so extreme that they have the capacity to adversely affect your lifestyle and almost at times feel debilitating.

There are a number of ways to treat anxiety such a prescription medications and a few different types of therapy, one of which is Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy.

A mindfulness-based approach to psychotherapy is one that aims to establish a deeper connection between the patient and their own feelings and thoughts - causing them to become more aware of what they’re experiencing.

Of the various touted benefits of mindfulness-based psychotherapy, the top 5 are outlined below:

1.Reduced Stress

Stress is one of the biggest trigger points for anxiety-ridden patients. Research indicated that mindfulness-based psychotherapy greatly reduces stress by altering the thought processing, allowing one to selectively choose positivity over the negativity.

2.Increased Focus

It has been shown that mindfulness helps anxiety patients focus their minds and attention. They are better able to sift and eliminate the distractions to decrease anxiety and increase their productivity.

3.Decreased Emotional Volatility

People suffering from anxiety disorders often struggle to effectively control their emotions and hence are more prone to emotional reactivity or volatility. According to research, mindfulness-based psychotherapy allows patients to better control their feelings and emotions and disengage themselves when faced with emotionally triggering circumstances.

 4.Increased Relationship Satisfaction

Studies have found that mindfulness allows anxiety patients to communicate to and understand their partners better. An individual’s ability to be mindful can effectively predict their relationship satisfaction and success.

 5.Improved Memory

As found through various studies, mindful meditation seems to significantly enhance and improve a person’s mental capacity especially during or after periods of high-stresses. This is particularly beneficial for patients suffering from anxiety disorders who struggle with stressful situations, which can adversely affect their short and long term memory.

How Can Mindfulness Alleviate Anxiety

Anxiety is a mental state of mind that is characterized by a person’s inability to manage or control their own emotional reactions and responses. There are various types of anxiety disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Of the variety of treatment modalities available to treat anxiety, Mindfulness or Mindfulness-based therapy has become particularly popular in recent years. Mindfulness is conceptualized as the practice of being consciously aware and present for each single moment of a person’s life. Mindfulness based therapy in Burbank is particularly successful for treating anxiety and anxiety related issues because it enhances a person’s ability to decipher and distinguish between valuable thought that requires critical thinking and problem solving from a worrisome, nagging afterthought.

Mindful meditations helps alleviate anxiety and overcome anxiety disorders by bring calm and serenity to an overactive mind. On a cellular or neuronal level, it has been found that mindful meditation affects and essentially activates a region in the brain known as the anterior cingulated cortex – the area which is responsible for regulating thoughts and emotions.  

Mindful meditation is a conscientious movement which requires conscious effort and thought by the individual ensuring that they are actively involved and engrossed in the task at hand rather than being distracted or waylaid by the crowding thoughts. What’s more, by using mindfulness-based therapy modalities, individuals that suffer from anxiety are able to reduce their symptoms instead of hiding from them.  Instead of running away from the negative thoughts that seem unusually threatening, individuals are encouraged to actively recognize the ‘threats’ as completely perceived and inconsequential instead of real or important.

Therapy for anxiety combined with mindful meditation has the capacity to reduce the debilitating mental and physical symptoms of anxiety, allowing the anxious person to live a healthy, normal life.

How Guided Meditation Can Reduce Anxiety

Guided Meditation is a type of meditation that can help you attain the deepest levels of relaxation. Through the various modes of guided meditations available such as audio or visual directives, videos, imagery, or even written texts, a person is able to change their perspective and outlook on life for complete stress relief.

Audio or video are often utilized during the guided meditation sessions and are designed to soothe and relax a persons’ mind until it reaches a peaceful state. By allowing your brain to submerge itself into an imaginative world that is different from the usual, stressful one, one has the capacity to reprogram your mind to let go of the outside pressures and instead find the focus needed to concentration on their goals in life.

The whole concept of guided meditation is to help a person unwind and attain a state of serene inner peace. In a session of guided meditation, a person is asked to physically relax their bodies and open their minds to envision different visualizations depending on their purpose. In case of stress reduction, guided visualizations along with audio cues may be used to entice you to hone in on one point or aspect of your mind or body and consciously begin relaxing it.

Beginning from a physical starting point such as the muscles, you decrease your breathing rate, blood pressure, metabolism, and pulse rate to attain the deepest state of physical relaxation. Once there, you are then eventually guided to completely relax your mind along with your body to provide the much needed relief from the outside stressful stimuli. When a person has reached that pinnacle of relaxation, it is then they can begin shifting their attention to the thoughts, and feelings of distress, working to eliminate them one by one.

Guided meditation can be helpful for individuals struggling with anxiety and depression.

Therapy in Burbank can be a source of learning skills to help reduce anxiety, one such skill is guided meditation.

5,4,3,2,1 Method to Reduce Anxiety

“…The longer I sat in the doctor’s office waiting for my test results the more anxious I became. My stomach was full of butterflies.  I had trouble sitting still.  My heart was racing, and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I could only imagine the worst case scenario…”

Many of us experience anxiety on a regular basis.  Anxiety is a normal and adaptive system in the body that tells us when we are in danger. This means that dealing with your anxiety never involves eliminating it, but rather managing it. However, just because you are experiencing anxiety does not mean you are in a dangerous situation.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) believes that what you think becomes what you feel, but just because you think something does not mean it is accurate. Thoughts are random and sometimes insignificant. Many times our minds can run wild creating situations of “what if”- that may not have any factual basis at all.  Suddenly your mind is running in the wrong direction, and your body begins to feel anxious.  

Panic attacks cause catastrophic thinking which means your thoughts are most likely irrational and out of proportion to reality in the moment. However, the symptoms of a panic attack cannot be ignored.  Panic attacks can increase with time, and prevent you from participating in every day activities.  

To prevent your anxiety from increasing and interfering with daily life, grounding exercises are recommended.  Grounding exercises help you manage the symptoms of anxiety.  As you feel your body becoming anxious, you can do these exercises to reduce the “spacey” feelings and prevent the spiral downward to a panic attack.  

One of the most common grounding techniques is the “54321” exercise.  It goes like this:

Young woman having a panic attack holds head with worried expression.

Start with deep breathing. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds. Continue this pattern until you find your thoughts slowing down. 

5. Acknowledge 5 THINGS around you that you can SEE- Maybe it’s a clock on the wall, chewing gum on the floor, clouds moving past, however big or small, recognize 5 items you can see with your eyes.

4.  Acknowledge 4 THINGS around you that you can TOUCH- Maybe it’s your computer at work, the park bench you are sitting on, your cell phone, your wallet or purse.  Recognize 4 items you can feel with your hands or body.

3. Acknowledge 3 THINGS around you that you can HEAR- Maybe it’s the buzz of the copy machine, the laughter of children at the park, birds chirping, construction work down the street.  Use your fine tuning and see if you can hear ambient sounds you may not normally tune into- the hum of the air conditioner, clocks ticking, cars going by.  Name 3 things that are audible to you. 

2. Acknowledge 2 THINGS around you that you can SMELL.  This one may be tricky if you are not in a stimulating environment. If you cannot automatically sniff something out, walk nearby to find a scent. Maybe you walk to your bathroom to smell soap or outside to smell anything in nature, or even could be as simple as leaning over and smelling a pillow on the couch, a pencil or hey do a check to see how your deodorant is working today. Whatever it may be, take in the smells around you.

1. Acknowledge 1 positive THING around you that you can taste is the most common way to end this exercise, but I like instead that you acknowledge one positive thing about yourself.  Anxiety can leave us feeling inadequate, or silly that we are getting “worked up over nothing”, but taking time to address your feelings is an accomplishment.  There are many good things about you.  Positive thinking can help bring about a positive feeling in yourself.  And finally at level 1, I also recommend taking one more big deep breath.  

At the end of the exercise celebrate your success.  Recognize you were able to ground yourself and prevent the anxiety spiral.  This will help you remember coping with anxiety is possible and that you successfully completed the exercise once before. The next time you feel your anxiety returning, remind yourself of your previous successes. If you are new to grounding and the 54321 exercise, here are some tips to remember: 

Tips for Grounding:

1. Eyes open. When doing grounding techniques, make sure to keep your eyes open, so that you can see and focus on what is around you right now. It is also a good idea to speak out loud, describing what you are seeing and doing.

2. Practice: Like any other skill, it is important to practice grounding techniques. It will be most useful if you have tried using this skill when you were calm, and you practiced it often. That way, when you find yourself needing to use it, you already know how.

3. Enlist help: Teach a friend or family member about grounding and why you need to use it. If someone you trust understands when grounding is useful, they can remind you to use it (and do it with you) if you are starting to lose touch with the present. For example, they might say, “I think you might want to do some grounding now... can you describe what you are wearing? What am I wearing? Where are we right now?”

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is effective for anxiety management. Contact Hope Therapy Center in Burbank today! Our trained professional therapist in Burbank help you reduce anxiety.  

Photo by Elijah O'Donnell on Unsplash

Effective Ways to Manage Anxiety

Everyone worries about all sorts of things, and sometimes that act of worrying can be helpful in pushing you to solve a problem and take action when needed. However, constant self-doubt, paralyzing fears, and high levels of anxiety can be very harmful to your health. If you are experiencing panic attacks as a result of your anxiety, it’s essential that you see a therapist who can help you. Your mental health is not something that can be left ignored and untreated. But if you are experiencing anxiety without panic attacks, you can train your mind to break the habit of worrying and teach yourself to relax and calm down.

Worried woman stares out of window.

Worrying about Worrying

One of the main reasons why managing anxiety is so hard is because of the way you think about anxiety itself. Some people are concerned that worrying so much will cause major health problems for them both physically and mentally, and it will consume them wholly. This adds more anxiety, and the vicious cycle of worrying continues.

Other people feel that their anxiety is good as it helps them solve problems, protects them from unexpected occurrences, and prepares them for any potential bad situations. This means that they can never get rid of their anxiety, as they treat it like a security blanket. So they will constantly have elevated levels of anxiety.

It’s important to understand that anxiety, in moderation, is a good thing; but when it starts to take over your life and interferes with your daily routine, it must be alleviated.

Tips to Reducing Anxiety

Once you decide that your anxiety is bogging you down, and it is something you must manage and reduce, you can try some tested self-help methods to get you through it:

Create Boundaries

It’s hard to stop thinking about something, because when you want to stop thinking, it entails thinking about it. Distracting yourself and telling yourself to calm down will just increase anxiety. What you can do is embrace the anxious thoughts, but with restrictions. Set a time and place for your worry; such as the sitting on the patio from 6 pm to 6:30pm and allow yourself to worry. Give yourself a specific time to worry about everything and then stop when you leave that place. During the day, it you start to worry, tell yourself that this is not the time and wait till 6 pm to think these thoughts. This delays the anxiety and restricts it, helping you avoid it during your regular activities.

Identify Good and Bad Anxiety

When you start to worry, stop and think about whether the problem at hand is solvable or unsolvable. This will tell you whether your anxiety is fulfilling a purpose or not. If yes, you can deal with the problem and your anxiety will go away. If no, you can delay the anxiety and worry about it at 6 pm (or whatever time you choose). Identify your feelings of fear and anger, and accept them as part of who you are. This way, you won’t be so overwhelmed by these emotions and won’t get so anxious when having to deal with them.

Live in the Moment

Be mindful of the present. Start to notice everything around you and stay completely focused on what’s happening in the present. This will control worrying about the past and future, and all your imaginary what-ifs will be kept at bay. Don’t get frustrated when your old worries keep resurfacing, each time to draw attention back to the present, you are reinforcing a new habit that your brain will eventually adapt.

 5,4,3,2,1 Zap Anxiety 

One way to help ground you back in the moment is to activate the 5 senses – this is why we call it the 5,4,3,2,1 Zap Anxiety Plan. 

With this plan, take a moment and identify the following:

1) Indentify 5 things you can see

2) Identify 4 things you can hear

3) Identify 3 things you can touch

4) Identify 2 things you can smell

5) Identify 1 thing you can taste

Through the process of activating the senses it brings you back to the present and allows the mind to stop worrying about the “what ifs.”

When you implement these tips, you will start to see a noticeable change in your levels of anxiety.

Give it some time, and if it persists, you may want to seek professional help – a caring therapist can help you alleviate anxiety. Contact Jennie Marie for more information.