stress reduction

A Minute of Mindfulness

It Only Takes a Minute

Take time to pause

Take time to pause

I created this quick video below to demonstrate how easy it is to be mindful. Wherever you are, take a moment to slow down and tune into the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touch the things that are there with you in the present moment.

No matter where you are — on the street, in the city or country, forest or ocean side, at home or at work — you can take a minute and pause.

If you’d like to do more meditating and don’t know where to begin I have a FREE guide to get you started! Fill out this form and I’ll send it along to you with a free meditation too!

If you’d like a longer meditation that also incorporates your senses this week on the Woman Worriers podcast I offer a guided imagery meditation using your sensory information to create a calm, safe space.


Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist, blogger,  creator and host of the Woman Worriers podcast, and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979. 

Photo and video by Elizabeth Cush



Does My Sleep Affect My Anxiety?

woman sleeping.jpg

Anxiety can make a good night’s sleep very difficult. Maybe your mind is on overtime and you can’t fall asleep right away, or you wake up at night full or worry. Or maybe you struggle with insomnia and you’re awake most of the night. No matter what the issue, the lack of a good night’s sleep affects your health and your mental health.

Sleep gives your body and mind the chance to reboot, and just like a computer if there are glitches in the system and you don’t reboot the glitches continue. Maybe your stress carries into the next day. Maybe you’re not thinking as clearly as you would like, and maybe you’re just exhausted.

I can remember having trouble falling asleep as a child being terrified when I was the only person awake at night and I still struggle with sleep from time-to-time, but I’ve learned some ways to help me manage.

In my post for Good Therapy this month, Can Better Sleep Help You Manage Anxiety? I share some well-researched and some common sense tips to help you sleep better, and maybe feel less stressed when you’re not sleeping.

In other news, this week on the Woman Worriers podcast I’m talking to Rebecca Wong, LCSW about relationships, anxiety, boundaries and intimacy. You can find the interview here.

This is the work of living relationally: To really show up in relationship with our partners and ourselves.
— Rebecca Wong, LCSW

Also, the Woman Worriers Mindfulness groups begin in this month! Early bird pricing is still available and there are only two  spots left! The group is for you if:

·  You’re always in your head — thinking, planning, reassessing….

·  You believe that your stress and anxiety impact your relationships.

·  Your anxiety holds you back from living your life fully.

·  Your worries wake you up at night or make it hard to fall asleep.

·  You’re tired of your anxiety taking control.

You can reach out if you’d like more information on any of the information above. Please feel free to share this information with anyone who might benefit!


 

Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist, blogger,  creator and host of the Woman Worriers podcast, and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Ways To Manage Anxiety

Managing anxiety naturally

Managing anxiety naturally

Nine Ways To Help Anxiety Naturally

Anxiety management strategies are a very personal choice. What works for some doesn’t always work for others. Some clients choose to take medication to help lessen their anxiety but many come to see me for therapy because they’re looking for alternative ways to manage.

Do you have anxiety? Have you wondered if you can manage it without medication? You may be able to! In my post for Good Therapy this month I share with you nine strategies that provide a starting place. You can find Want To Manage Anxiety Naturally? Here Are Nine Ways To Begin here.

Essential Oils: Can They Help With Anxiety?

I also interviewed Deb Del Vecchio-Scully for the Woman Worriers podcast last month and she shared why essential oils work so well and so quickly and which essential oils works best when you’re anxious. You can find the episode here.

I hope you find these helpful! If you’re local to the Annapolis area I will be starting Mindfulness Groups for women beginning this Fall. If you’ve wanted to bring more mindfulness into your life but aren’t sure how, or you’d like support in your mindfulness practice I’d love to talk to you!


Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist, blogger,  creator and host of the Woman Worriers podcast, and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979. 

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Easing Your Anxiety When You’re Worried About A Loved One

I guest posted for Sharon Martin's blog Happily Imperfect on Psych Central. Here's her introduction followed by my post"
 

Have you spent a sleepless night worrying about a loved one? Perhaps it was your teenager who was out past curfew or your spouse who didn’t manage her diabetes. Feeling anxious in such a  situation is understandable. It’s scary to feel like things are out of your control and possibly heading for disaster.

When you have a loved one who is making “bad” decisions, worry can take over your life if you don’t know how to keep it in check. My colleague, Elizabeth Cush, an expert in treating anxiety, wrote this week’s blog post to support those of you who are experiencing worry and anxiety about a loved one.


Easing Your Anxiety When You’re Worried About A Loved One
by Elizabeth Cush, LCPC

woman worrying.jpg

It’s really hard to watch someone make bad or harmful choices or to see a loved one make decisions you wouldn’t have made given the same circumstances. Maybe you worry because:

  • They drink or smoke too much
  • They can’t control their anger
  • They quit their job
  • They hang out with “the wrong” people
  • They gamble
  • They don’t pay their bills

I know that as a mother, wife, and friend, I have had times when one or more of the people in my life did things that made me feel worried, angry, or hurt (and sometimes all three). It was hard not to get consumed by the worry. So, how do you stop worrying and quiet your mind when you’re concerned about a loved one but powerless to get him or her to change or make better decisions?

Anxiety shows up when we can’t control things

Relationships can create the perfect storm of emotional ups and downs, bringing with them waves of anxiety. We want the people in our lives to be happy. We don’t want them to struggle, to feel pain, or to cause pain and suffering, but we really can’t control a lot of what others do. That can bring on a lot of anxious feelings.

If you experience anxiety, this lack of control can make your anxiety worse. You might believe that if you could just control this thing — whether it’s someone else’s behaviors, life events, or future outcomes — then you would feel better. You stay awake worrying about what needs to be different, what needs to change, and how to make that happen. You get stuck in the “what ifs,” or “if onlys.” But the reality is that you can’t control many of the things going on around you. I might even venture to say you can’t control MOST things!

The need for control increases anxiety

My clients sometimes say, “if only my loved one wouldn’t __________ (you fill in the blanks). It’s ruining everything. I’ve told them time and again that they need to stop. I can’t sleep at night because I worry about what will happen.”

Worrying increases stress and it doesn’t create change or stop bad things from happening; it only makes you more stressed. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t worry about the people you love. I am saying is that the worry won’t make it better, and sometimes it makes you so stressed that it becomes hard to do anything else.

How to ease your anxiety when worries take over

So how do you ease the anxiety that arises when the people in your life aren’t cooperating? Here are seven steps to get you started:

  1. Take three slow deep breaths.
  2. Be curious about the part of you that wants to be able to control the behaviors of others. Maybe you say to yourself, “There’s a part of me that wants to keep things under control. I wonder what that part is afraid of?”
  3. Remind yourself that your anxiety is prompted by your fears about the future and of not being in control.
  4. Gently remind yourself that you can voice your concerns or opinions, but it’s up to others to make changes. A gentle reminder to yourself might be, “I can’t control what others choose to do or not do. I can only tell them how their behavior affects me and how I feel.”
  5. If the people in your life don’t change, be mindful that this might cause you distress. You might feel anxious or scared. You might say out loud,  “I’m so afraid because __________ isn’t changing. It makes me feel powerless and I worry about what might happen if they don’t change.”
  6. If someone’s behavior hurts you or puts you at risk, it’s important to create healthy boundaries or choose to spend time away from that person. If you’re not comfortable doing this, you might need to practice or get some support.
  7. Offer yourself some compassion. You might still feel worried about the people in your life. Saying to yourself, “This is really hard for me right now. I care about them, and I care about how they’re affecting me” creates a space where you can feel compassionate toward them and toward yourself.

Wanting the best for others is human. We want the people we love to make healthy choices, but that doesn’t always happen. If you need support and someone to help you work through the difficulty, seeing a therapist can provide a safe, non-judgmental space where you can share your feelings.


Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist, blogger,  creator and host of the Woman Worriers podcast, and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979. 

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

What's Behind All That Busy-ness?

Being an anxiety therapist and having experienced anxiety myself, I understand how anxiety can run your life, even when you think you have it under control. That’s because anxiety shows up in ways that aren’t always obvious. One of the symptoms of being anxious that isn’t always recognized is busyness, or always “doing.” If you have a hard time sitting still and feel compelled to multi-task constantly, you might be using busyness as a way to manage your anxiety.

Keeping Anxiety At Bay Through Busyness

Are you keeping anxiety at bay through busyness?

Are you keeping anxiety at bay through busyness?

Many of my clients tell me that they find it hard to sit still. For some, being still creates anxiety because their inner critic jumps in and reminds them of all the things they should be doing. For others, their “always-on” mind makes it hard to sit quietly or enjoy reading and other quiet activities. Always being busy becomes a way to manage anxiety, because it doesn’t give you time to sit and think.

I remember times when my husband would say to me, “Can you just sit down?” Or, “Why are you always doing 10 things at once?” Being busy made me feel like I had things under control and helped distract me from the anxious, uncomfortable feelings that would creep in the moment I was still.

But the anxiety doesn’t go away when we’re busy. It often pops in to make a guest appearance just when you think you have it under control. Maybe it shows up when you’re trying to fall asleep or stay asleep, or when things feel beyond your control or they don’t go as planned.

So, if we’re “managing” our anxiety by being busy, why does it still come back? Well, when we constantly work to avoid feeling anxious, we’re actually making ourselves more anxious. Instead of relieving the anxiety, we’re actually creating a pattern of behaviors that keeps anxiety hanging around.

Always “Doing” Only Makes You More Anxious

Our bodies react to things that make us feel afraid. Anxiety and stress are fear responses. If we try to avoid the stress through busyness instead of learning to calm ourselves in moments of stress, our bodies still sense the stress and react accordingly. In fact, if our body doesn’t have a chance to chill, to de-stress, it will have a harder time managing when the next stressful event comes along. 

It’s like a chain reaction: You feel anxiety when you’re still, or quiet, so that prompts you to get busy. The busyness pushes the anxiety to the background, but it still exists below the surface, not being attended to. Then something small happens. Maybe you stub your toe, or drop a glass, or make a mistake at work. Now the anxiety jumps from the background into the present moment.

Now your reaction comes from a place of extreme anxiety, because you were already anxious to begin with. You might react in a way that doesn’t fit the intensity of the event.  Maybe you scream at the pain or yell at those who ask if you’re OK when you hurt yourself. Maybe you berate yourself for dropping the glass and start to cry. Maybe you have an anxiety attack because you feel so overwhelmed at work. Now you worry that the next time something happens, you’ll react in the same way . That thought keeps the anxiety bubbling below the surface.

Getting Comfortable With Being And Not Doing

Can I allow that I'm anxious in this moment?

Can I allow that I'm anxious in this moment?

I know that it’s really hard to change old patterns of behavior, but that’s what I’m asking you to do. When you find that you’re creating busyness for yourself, I want you to pause and pay mindful attention to what’s happening. Try sitting still (without your phone) and ask yourself  “Can I allow that I’m anxious in this moment and sit with it for just a minute?” 

Check out where you feel the anxiety, with a curious attention. Maybe your chest is tight or you have a stomachache. Say out loud, “The stress and anxiety feel like a hot poker in my chest, or a ball of hard clay in my stomach or  _______” (you fill in the blank). You might feel a little weird saying this out loud. It might make you smile or laugh at yourself, and that’s OK!

Next, try breathing into the stress and anxiety with slow, deep, measured breaths. You can slowly breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4 and repeat. Then ask yourself how you’re feeling.

Lastly, I want you to be patient. Chances are, you’ve reacted and responded to anxiety and stress the same way for long time. It’s a well-worn path of behavior and neurological responses, and it will take time to change them. By practicing doing things differently, in a consistent way, you’ll begin to notice that you can manage your anxiety more effectively both physically and emotionally.


Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979. 

Photos by  Andrew Neel  & Andrew Neel on Unsplash

The Journey Toward Mindfulness

midnful woman.jpg

I’ve written about mindfulness a lot since I began blogging a couple of years ago. As I entered private practice, I became aware of mindfulness as a concept, but I didn’t really appreciate how powerful it could be until I started my own mindful meditation practice and began incorporating mindfulness into my therapy practice.

I’ve Seen Mindfulness At Work

I’ve seen clients take up daily meditation and report that when they’re stressed they can recover a sense of calm much more quickly. I have clients who’ve experienced trauma begin to tune into their bodies so that they can more easily identify what they’re feeling and where, in the moment. I’ve been witness for clients who were voicing their needs for the first time. And I’ve seen the transformation when clients begin to truly see themselves and embrace all of their parts, not just the parts they like, but even their inner critical part that judges and demeans, and all the other imperfect, messy, human parts.

But I never would have encouraged clients to take up mindfulness if I hadn’t experienced myself just how powerful it can be. Being more in tune with who I am, how I feel, how my body reacts and what triggers me makes me a better partner, mother, friend and therapist. And mindfulness helped get me there.

Mindfulness and Managing Anxiety

Do I still have days when being mindful escapes me? Of course! If things are really difficult or stressful, if I get triggered and revert back to my old ways of reacting, or if I’m tired or anxious, it’s easy for me to lose sight of how to be mindful in the moment.

Self-compassion eases anxiety

Self-compassion eases anxiety

But one of the best parts of being mindful is that it helps foster a sense of understanding and compassion for yourself and for others! So on the days when mindfulness has escaped my attention, I’ve learned to be compassionate with myself. I understand that I will have hard days — everyone does. If I didn’t struggle, I wouldn’t be human. It’s just a part of who I am, and I’ve learned that that’s OK.

So, instead of beating myself up and listening attentively to my inner critic, who always wants to point out just how deficient I am, which leaves me feeling anxious and stressed, I can offer myself compassion and love. I can recognize that maybe I had a bad day and I can just be with that, in the moment. I can allow that there will be good and bad days and that one bad day doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me human.

Mindfulness Group Practice

I know the benefits of making mindfulness a part of my daily routine and I’d like to share them with you. I have mindfulness groups beginning in October 2017 and I am accepting new group members now.

If you would like to:

  • Understand the components and practices of mindfulness
  • Feel more present in your daily life
  • Use breath, body and emotional awareness to calm your mind and connect with yourself in new ways
  • Be more compassionate with yourself and others
  • ·Use grounding techniques when your stress and anxiety show up

Then fill out this form so we can set up a time to see if this is the right group for you.  Discounts are available for early enrollment. Let’s get things started!


Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose.

Photo by Lua Valentia and by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Preventing Stress This Holiday Season

Making yourself a priority can be difficult anytime, but it's even harder during the holidays. This week, my post focuses on ways you can take care of yourself while managing the season's craziness. I posted 30-tips to help you make it through New Year's a couple of weeks ago and over the next month I'm breaking it down by topic. Last week’s post provided tips on keeping you organized and your life under control to help you reduce stress and anxiety during the holidays and this week is all about taking care of yourself.

Practice mindfulness

Paying attention to your senses can calm the mind.

When stress overwhelms you, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations of the season and the holidays can be soothing. I know that frantic shoppers might not seem very calming, but if you take a deep breath and pay full attention to your senses, your body can relax and you might find something to appreciate in all of the craziness.

Allow feelings, even the icky ones

Let yourself feel your feelings, and know they, too, will pass.

Take time to enjoy the holiday

If we’re caught up in all that needs to be done, we forget why we’re celebrating.

Get a good night’s sleep

A good night's sleep reduces stress, is good for your body, and does wonders for your outlook on the day.

Eat healthy

Your body will thank you. Eating junk food can make you feel lethargic, bloated and uncomfortable.

Take time each day for self-care

Taking care of yourself can reduce stress.

Self-care can be as easy as reading for pleasure or taking a walk, just spend some time doing things that nourish your spirit.

Find time to relax

Calming your mind and body can help recharge you for the next task or challenge.

Fit exercise into your to-do list

Burning off that excess energy and stress does wonders for anxiety.

Check in with yourself

When stress and anxiety hits ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” and pay attention to those needs. If your body is screaming at you to take a break and relax, then do it!

I hope you have a happy holiday, but sometimes, no matter how much you try to take care of yourself, you still end up feeling overwhelmed, stressed, depressed or anxious. If you’re struggling this holiday season, know that you’re not alone. The holidays can be a very difficult time and therapy can help you talk about what’s bothering you, grieve for those you’ve lost or help you to process the difficult life experiences that keep you from moving forward. 

If you're wondering whether counseling is for you and you would like to talk about it please reach out. 


Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is a therapist in Annapolis helping adults and adolescents manage their stress and anxiety. She owns and operates Progression Counseling — 410-340-8469.

If you'd like more self-care tips during the holidays check out Laura Reagan's LCSW Therapy Chat Podcast episode #61.

Photos courtesy of Samilla Maioli and Kash Goudarzi for Unsplash.com.

Keeping Anxiety In Check While Keeping Up With The Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time. Whether you’re hosting an event, attending holiday parties, spending the holiday alone, traveling, or you have a long list of presents to buy, the holidays can create or ramp-up anxiety. Recently, I posted 30 tips to help you survive the season but over the next few weeks I'm breaking them down by topic. This week my tips will help you feel more organized and in control this holiday.

Keeping to-do lists short and can reduce holiday stress

Keeping to-do lists short and can reduce holiday stress

Keep to-do lists short

Limit your lists to items you can realistically accomplish within an allotted time frame. If needed, allow yourself to let some things go. Looking at unfinished items on your list can add to your stress.

Organize your to-do lists by location

If you have three stores to visit, try to group your errands so you’re going to places that are near each other. Or you can organize your trip by the things you need to buy. For instance, if you’re grocery shopping for the week you can also stock up on the non-perishables needed for the holidays like stuffing mix, or turkey broth.

Budget your money realistically to reduce future stress

You don’t want to go into extreme debt trying to create a perfect holiday, only to find you are totally stressed out later because of all the bills.

Budget your time

Set time aside some time to do a little each week. If you put off everything until the last minute, you’re only causing yourself more stress and anxiety.

Focus on the task instead of worrying about what's next

Worrying about what you need to do tomorrow, or the next day, or the next can be paralyzing. Try to stay in the present moment and focus on what you need to do today. “Whatever is going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not.”
Ana Monnar

When you’re stressed, take a moment to breath deeply a few times

Imagine a soothing presence as you breath in, and a letting go of the stress as you breath out. Focusing on your breath can ground you and help your body relax.

Keep it simple to avoid holiday burn-out

It’s easy to over think things, and get stuck worrying about making everything “just right,” but this can lead to holiday burnout. When deciding what gifts, food, or decorations you need, try not to get too caught up in finding the perfect ______ (you fill in the blank). 

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to avoid or manage the holiday stress and anxiety, it can still overwhelm us. If you're struggling and feel you might need additional support, counseling can help. Counseling provides a safe, supportive, non-judgmental space to talk about what's happening. It also helps you find strategies to manage your stress and anxiety that work for you. Please call or email me if you think therapy might help you manage the stress of the holidays.


Photo courtesy of Olu Eletu for Unsplash.com.

Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is a licensed therapist who works with high-functioning adults and adolescents experiencing anxiety and stress. She owns and operates Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md.

How to Manage Anxiety Through the Holidays

Having anxiety can be tough on any given day, but it can be worse this season. The holidays create the perfect storm that makes you feel buffeted by emotions, overwhelmed by the mounting waves of to-do lists, and wanting to take shelter to avoid all the stress.

I’ve put together a list of things you can do to help you manage your anxiety and stress through the holidays and into the New Year. There are 30 tips, and you don't have to implement them all at once. If the idea of 30 stress reducing tips stresses you out and makes you want to close your browser right now, take a slow, deep breath. Over the next few weeks I will break these down into more manageable chunks, so that you too can enjoy a less stressful, more enjoyable holiday.

30 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

stay organized to ease holiday stress

1. Create manageable to-do lists for the day or week. If your to-do list is 50 items long, it’s bound to make you feel more anxious. You want a list that you can actually get done.

2. Organize your to-do lists by location. If you have three stores to visit, try to group your errands so you’re going to places that are near each other.

3. Manage your expectations about how much you can get done each day. Remember, if you’re putting pressure on yourself to get way more done than you realistically can, you’re just adding to your anxiety. Allow yourself to let some things go.

4. Keep your regular sleep habits. Getting a good night’s sleep does wonders for your outlook on the day. It reduces stress and it’s good for your body.

5. Eat healthy. Your body will thank you. Eating junk food can make you feel lethargic, bloated and uncomfortable.

6. Ask for help. You might think your partner, friends or family can read your mind, but it’s not likely! Ask friends and family to help take care of the kids or your dog if you have a long day of working and running errands. Expressing what you need allows others to help out.

7. Let go of perfectionism. I love Pinterest, but having happy holidays doesn’t mean that you have to try every Pinterest idea to create that “perfect” holiday experience.

take care of yourself during the holidays to reduce stress

8. Take time each day for self-care. Self-care can be as easy as taking the time to read for pleasure, just spend some time doing things that nourish your spirit.

9. Find time to relax. Calming your mind and body can help recharge you for the next task or challenge.

10. Budget your money realistically. You don’t want to go into extreme debt trying to create a perfect holiday, only to find you are totally stressed out later because of all the bills.

11. Budget your time. If you put off everything until the last minute, you’re only causing yourself more stress and anxiety.

12. Manage others’ expectations. Promising everyone everything they ask for will only lead to feeling more overwhelmed. Let your family and friends know your limits.

13. Allow yourself to defy tradition. Before you cave in to the pressure of “we’ve always done it that way,” ask yourself if that’s really how you want to do it or if there’s a simpler, less stressful alternative.

14. Say “no.” Saying “no” isn’t easy for many of us. We worry we’ll hurt feelings or make others mad at us, but saying “yes” to everyone usually leads to anxious, overwhelmed, resentful and irritated feelings.

15. Be okay with making some mistakes. Letting perfectionism go can be liberating, but we also need to be kind to ourselves. When you forget to order something or forget to be somewhere you were supposed to be, know that you are not alone. Thousands of us out there are forgetting things, too. Instead of beating yourself up, offer yourself some words of comfort and allow that you’re human.

16. Fit exercise into your to-do list. Burning off that excess energy and stress does wonders for anxiety.

17. Take time to enjoy the holiday. If we’re caught up in all that needs to be done, we forget why we’re celebrating.

Pay attention to your surroundings during holidays

18. Practice mindfulness. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations of the season and the holidays can be soothing. I know that frantic shoppers might not seem very calming, but if you take a deep breath and pay full attention to your senses, your body can relax and you might find something to appreciate in all of the craziness.

19. Try to de-stress while traveling. If you’re driving, instead of getting angry about the traffic, take the time have a conversation with your traveling companion, or listen to your favorite podcast, audio book or playlist.

20. When you’re stressed, take a moment to breath deeply a few times. Imagine a soothing presence as you breath in, and a letting go of the stress as you breath out.

21. Acknowledge that holidays can be SUPER stressful. Just allowing yourself to feel the frustration, or anger, or whatever it is you’re feeling can be liberating.

22. Manage your negative self-talk. If you find you’re constantly reminding yourself of all the mistakes you’ve made, try a little self-compassion. It goes like this, “Yup, I could have done that better, but it’s OK. I made a mistake but we all do and it’s OK.”

23. Be mindful that every family has issues. And your family’s stuff, whatever it might be, will not disappear just because it’s a holiday.

24. Each day, think of one thing you are grateful for and share it with a friend. Feeling gratitude can improve your mood if you’re feeling down.

25. Get a hug(s) each day. Hugs make us feel more connected with ourselves and others. If you live alone, you can hug yourself!

Hugs can help you feel connected and reduce anxiety

26. Allow feelings, even the icky ones. Let yourself feel your feelings, and know they, too, will pass.

27. Focus on the task in front of you. Worrying about your entire to-do list at once can be paralyzing. As they say, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

28. Communicate with those you love and care for. Telling someone you love them and feeling the love from them can be very nourishing.

29. Before you blow a gasket when stressed or anxious, pause before reacting. Slow down your breathing and think about what you want to say before you say it.

30. Check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” and pay attention to those needs.

If you feel like you might need some additional support to help you manage your anxiety so you can enjoy the holiday season, please call me at 410-340-8469 or email me.


Photo credits go to Luis Llerna, Toa Heftiba, Cecil Vedemil and Nathan Anderson for Unsplash.com.

Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is an Annapolis, Md counselor who helps high-functioning men and women manage their anxiety and stress. She owns and operates Progression Counseling.

Stress Relief After Election Day

Today's blog post is a quickie. Regardless of your political affiliation this election season has been filled will stress. tension and negativity.  Post-election I think we all need to take a moment to breathe, relax, and ground ourselves. To go forward with positivism and hope.

Mindful Grounding To Relieve Stress

As I mentioned in my last post, nature can help to clam frazzled nerves, calm anxious minds and ground us in the present. I hope you enjoy listening and watching.

If you're feeling as though you could use some extra help managing your anxiety and stress counseling can help you learn more about what drives your anxiety, and incorporate effective coping and relaxation skills into your daily life. If you'd like to know if counseling might help you, call or email me so we can talk.

How To Use Your Environment To Calm Your Anxiety

I usually spend Sunday as an “off” day. I try not to work on my business or think too much about work. It’s the one day I try to disconnect from work, because on Monday the work week begins and I want to enter it feeling refreshed and ready.

When Your Racing Thoughts Get In The Way

Last Sunday I had trouble letting things go; I was feeling anxious about the week ahead. Thoughts kept popping up that led to other thoughts and, sure enough, soon I was completely distracted and mentally chewing over what I needed to do in the coming week.

Mindful walking can ease anxious thoughts

I decided to take a walk to clear my head and get some exercise. It was sunny and windy in Annapolis, where I live. Leaves blew and swirled down the street, and the wind whipped my hair around. I like walking because it helps to ground me, and it physically relaxes me. I try to pay attention to what I see, hear, smell and feel while walking.

This Sunday, I was still caught up in thought about half way into my 40-minute walk. I live near the water, so during my walks I always try to pause at a scenic spot to take in the river, the boats the birds — whatever might be present. Just a few minutes of reflecting can really soothe and nourish me.

Being Mindful Of Nature Can Ease Anxious Thoughts

I decided that because my mind was so reactive, I would take some extra time to appreciate where I live and what nature provides. I stood for a minute and a half, allowing the wind to blow against my skin, feeling the sun on my face, listening to the sounds the wind made blowing the rigging of the sailboats, the water lapping at the shore and the leaves as they rustled in the wind. That minute and a half calmed my mind and allowed me to continue on my walk without my head full of work. I decided to capture some of it on video because I wanted to share how alive and nourishing the environment can be. You can watch the 30-second video below.

I hope you enjoyed the short video and will consider using mindful presence to help ease your stress, to help you feel grounded and to help you become more aware of the world around you.

If your stress or anxiety makes it too hard to get out of your head and into the present moment, maybe counseling can help. Counseling provides an opportunity to talk about your stressors in an accepting compassionate space; it helps you to recognize your triggers and allows you to see a future where stress and anxiety no longer rule your life.

Mindfulness groups start in October with early bird pricing happening now. If you’d like to talk about how therapy or mindfulness might help you, please call me at 410-340-8469 or email me.


Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose.