I started realizing that so many of the clients who were in therapy with me in my Beverly Hills private practice were struggling with the same kinds of stress. They worried about whether they could accomplish their goals; they battled the negative voices in their heads; and they suffered from various degrees of anxiety and often scary panic attacks.
The thing is, it was all about the future. Their fears and frustrations were all about what will be – what might happen sometime down the road. These clients would spin out of control and feel consumed by anxiety that would just add stress into their lives. They would sit in my therapy office and describe the shock that they felt having experienced the panic attack and the sense of despair in anticipation of the next one. Most traumatic was the confusion about the anxiety in general. The questions would pour in:
Why am I anxious? How do I stop worrying so much? Why are my thoughts so negative?
Those are the questions that get nurtured in weekly therapy sessions, but my clients need something that they can take with them. When they’re not sitting in the cozy comfort of my therapy couch in Beverly Hills, what should they do to work through the anxiety? What steps can they take to be freed from the restraints of panic attacks?
While the best thing for anyone who struggles with anxiety and panic attacks is regular, weekly therapy sessions with a therapist they are comfortable with, there are some things that you can do to get through the difficult times between sessions. The most effective strategy is to find some way to focus on the moment – to avoid ruminating about the future. An easy thing to do is to take a deep breath, and to try to appreciate the people and things that are around you.
If the anxiety is overwhelming, and you need something tangible to help you relax, try the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique: Notice 5 things you can see; 4 things you can touch; 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This will help you focus on your senses on the here and now.
Once you’ve been able to get present, my favorite way to stay calm and relieved of anxiety is to reminisce about a favorite past memory. Thinking about past good times will help keep you from spinning down the rabbit hole of anxiety.
Now that you’re calm and out of your head, try to remember the events of that day, and share them with your therapist at your next session. I always work with my clients on making connections between that they are doing and thinking when the anxiety hits.
If you feel that your anxiety has become overwhelming and you don’t really have someone you trust and feel comfortable with to process it, get in touch with us to set up a free 20-minute consultation to talk about ways you can work toward overcoming your anxiety.