stress releif

Does My Sleep Affect My Anxiety?

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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

Using Mindfulness This Holiday Season

Be mindful of your needs this holiday!

Be mindful of your needs this holiday!

In my recent post for Good Therapy, ’Tis the Season to Be Mindful: Manage the Holidays with Less Stress, I share some mindfulness tips to help you if you're struggling with holiday stress.

"If we listen to and tend to what we need, if we take care of our gardens first, we’re better able to help others with theirs because we’re healthy enough and strong enough to do it."

On another note...

This will be my last post for 2017. I’ve been consistently blogging for over two years and I’ve decided to take a break from posting between now and January. I often urge my clients to take care of themselves and taking a break from blogging is a good way for me to care of myself over the next few weeks. I will continue to write and I will post some of my older blogs on my Facebook page. You can also find them  all here!

I hope you have a wonderful, safe holiday season. Please take care of yourself, be mindful of what you need and take a moment to pause when you’re feeling stressed.  I’ll see you in the New Year!


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. 

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

 

How To Get A Handle On Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a stressful for even the most relaxed person. And even though taking care of ourselves is not always on our radar, it’s important to do so when you’re under added stress. Although I try to pay attention to my own needs at this time of year, they end up at the bottom of my to-do list when I have a lot on my mind or I’m super busy. I’ve put together a few ways to bring more self-care and into your life while managing the holiday craziness.

Practice mindfulness.

Pay mindful attention to your senses

Pay mindful attention to your senses

Paying attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations of the season and the holidays can be soothing. So, take a deep breath and pay full attention to your senses. Try to relax your body and find something to appreciate in all of the craziness.

Allow feelings, even the icky ones.

Let yourself feel your feelings. Try not to label your feelings as “good” or “bad.” When you take the time to notice how you feel, and name the feeling either aloud or to yourself, it can help defuse even the most intense emotions.

Take time to enjoy yourself.

No matter which holiday you celebrate, when you get caught up in all that needs to get done, you might forget to have a little fun.

Get a good night’s sleep.

A good night's sleep recharges you

A good night's sleep recharges you

If you take one thing away from this post, I would encourage you to make it this point! A good night’s sleep allows your mind and body to recharge, so instead of starting the day stuck in stressful feelings from yesterday, you can start refreshed.  Sleep reduces stress, is good for your body and does wonders for your outlook on the day.

Eat a healthy diet.

Your body will thank you. Pay attention to what food you eat and, if possible, eat less junk. Your body will appreciate it!

Find time to pause.

Setting aside one to three minutes to take a few deep breaths a couple times throughout your day will calm your mind and body, so you’re ready for the next task or challenge.

Check in with yourself.

Check in with you throughout the day.

Check in with you throughout the day.

I like to suggest to my clients to take a moment when you go to the bathroom to look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “What do I need in this moment?” Pay attention to those needs. If your body is screaming at you to take a break and relax, then do it!

 

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 those you’ve lost or help you to process the difficult life experiences that keep you from moving forward. 

If you’re thinking about counseling or you’d like to give yourself the gift of mindfulness in the New Year, please reach out.


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. 

Photo by Aliis SinisaluChris Benson, Kinga Cichewicz, Septian simon 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

Staying Mindful Through The Holidays

Struggling With Holiday Stress

Struggling with holiday stress

Struggling with holiday stress

Do the holidays totally stress you out? It’s hard to get away from all the TV and radio ads, social media and the decorations and music in the retail stores. I enjoy the season, but sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough — I’m behind in preparation, and if I could just be better organized, maybe that would ease my stress. In my home we celebrate Christmas, and the constant reminders of how many shopping days are left leave me feeling anxious and overwhelmed at times. But, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, the hype and pomp surrounding it can make you feel stressed out!

Mindfulness Can Help

Here are a few tips that will allow you to be present in the moment, instead of being caught up in the worry, planning and thinking that seem to be an integral part of this time of year.

Practice mindful awareness.

Practice mindful awareness

Practice mindful awareness

The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations of the season and the holidays can be soothing. I know that frantic shoppers or Christmas music blaring in your ear might not seem very calming, but if you take a deep breath and pay full attention to your senses, you might notice the different colors you see as you shop, or you might notice the smell of a fire burning as you walk outside, or maybe you can tune into the taste of a really good orange, or another delicious food.

When you can get out of your head and take the time to really notice what’s around you, it allows your body to relax. You might find something small to appreciate in all of the craziness.

Manage your negative self-talk and be OK with making some mistakes.

Letting perfectionism go can be liberating; 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. It goes like this, “Wow, I’m being really hard on myself for _____. I probably could have done that better, but it’s OK. I made a mistake, but we all do, and it’s OK.”

Practice feeling gratitude.

Practice feeling gratitude

Practice feeling gratitude

Feeling gratitude can improve your mood and your outlook if you practice daily. An easy way to bring more gratitude and thankfulness into your life is to write down one thing you’re grateful for each day. You can write in a journal, in the notes of your phone, or just make a mental note to yourself when you find something to be grateful for.

If you struggle with finding something to be grateful for, you can say, “I am grateful for this moment right now.” Or, “I’m grateful for this chair I’m sitting in, or the ground I’m standing on.”

To give your gratitude practice an extra punch, you can share whatever you’re grateful for with someone else. Saying it out loud and sharing it reinforces the positive feelings within you and creates connection with others. Two amazing benefits!

If you’d like to bring more mindful awareness into your life after the holidays, groups are forming now for January 2018. You can find out more here or you can call me at 410-339-1979.


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. 

Photo by Heidi Sandstrom.Clem Onojeghuo and Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

With Anxious Feelings, Knowledge Is Power

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Leaning Into Your Anxiety

In my blog,  How Leaning Into Your Anxiety Can Help You Manage It,  for Good Therapy this month I discuss how to manage your anxiety, even when you’re not sure why you got anxious in the first place.

When it comes to anxious feelings, knowledge is power. Here's how being curious and compassionate about your anxiety can help you lessen its grip on your life. You can find the article here. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful!

I’ll be offering mindfulness groups in January 2018 to help manage anxiety. If you’re interested please reach out! 410-339-1979.


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. 

Photo by joyce huis on Unsplash

How Connection Can Help Ease Anxiety

In a recent blog post, I shared my own struggle with anxiety. Afterward, people gave me a lot of great feedback, and a few shared their own personal stories about their struggles with anxiety. I got permission from a friend to share her story so that others might be able to gain some insight from her experience. Although her story is uniquely hers, I have experienced similar feelings, as have many of my clients.

Anxiety Can Leave You Feeling Disconnected

Anxiety can leave you feeling disconnected.

My friend has battled anxiety and depression for some time. She’s been doing all the right things — seeing her primary care doctor, using medication and going to counseling. She said she also tries things like “getting a massage, taking time to journal, reading self help books and listening to CDs about happiness, joy, guided imagery, affirmations, mindfulness etc.”

All of these things were helpful in the moment. She said she would be left with “fleeting moments of feeling uplifted and then fall right back to feeling overwhelmed by life, anxious and depressed.”

The thing about anxiety and depression is that they can take over your life on many levels. For example, when you’re feeling down or overly stressed, it’s hard to reach out for help; in turn, this can leave you feeling isolated, as if you’re alone with your struggle. Even though you might see co-workers, chat by text, or connect on Facebook, feeling disconnected can stop you from reaching out in meaningful ways to the people in your life who matter most — your partner, your best friend, your college roommate… You fill in the blank.

As for my friend, she had slowly lost touch with the people in her life she felt the most connected to. One of her friends was busy with her own issues, so she was no longer as available as she had been, leaving my friend feeling even more disconnected. “I was hit with the fact that my support system had become WAY too small, and her ‘disappearance’ really left me floundering.”

Reconnection Can Help Ease Anxious Feelings

Many studies have shown that a sense of being disconnected can lead to feelings of loneliness, alienation and a lack of purpose. The authors of a study published in the January 2015 issue of Psychology in the Schools found that that students with anxiety are at significant risk of loneliness, which can then lead to depression. The good news is that connectedness has been found to help protect against depression.

My friend sought counseling. When she continued to fall back into her anxious and depressive feelings, she and her counselor realized that she was missing the kind of human connection that allowed her to feel heard and supported.  Together, they came up with a plan and homework for her to reach out to people she’d lost touch with.

Reaching out to friends can lessen relieve anxious feelings

My friend said, “the reconnection has been a real lift” for her and the friends she reached out to. She decided to make more of an effort to talk to her friends more regularly. She plans to continue to reach out to old friends and work toward building new meaningful relationships. For the moment she is feeling optimistic. “I have been impressed with how much better I feel after a meaningful 15-minute conversation.”

Do you have a story to share about your journey with anxiety? Please share your comments below.

If you are feeling disconnected, anxious and in need of support, please call me at 410-340-8469 for a free 15-minute consultation.

Photos by Abi Lewis and Priscilla Westra for unsplash.com

Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is a counselor in Annapolis, Md. She owns and operates Progression Counseling.

5 Expert Tips On How To Add Self-Care Into Your Life

Part 3 in a Series: Over-stressed and Overwhelmed — We’re Not Taking Care Of Ourselves

Making self-care a priority isn’t easy — but it’s critical to our well-being. My last two posts offered insights from experts on why self-care is so important and why women seem to struggle with self-care. Several of my colleagues talked about the negative consequences that we can experience if we don’t take care of ourselves. So the question remains: How can we make self-care a part of daily life, without adding stress to our life, or our to-do list? Here’s some suggestions:

Take a moment each day to simply pause and feel peace. In that moment, be aware of the breath, maybe close the eyes, find a smile on the face and feel it in the heart. Just simply pause... and feel peace. — Julie Blamphin, Stretch Your Spirit, Annapolis, Md.

Hugs are good self-care

Hug someone you love — more than once a day, if possible. (Pets count!!) Hugs. They heal. They connect. They remind you what it feels like to receive support. They remind you that you're not alone. They release oxytocin and serotonin: aka The Cuddle Drugs. They make you want to get closer and they make you feel a part of something cozy, and warm, and LOVE. Hugs are the physical manifestation of love. And as a Self Proclaimed LoveGeek, I advocate for more love, always. — Robyn D’Angelo, LMFT, The Happy Couple Expert, Laguna, Calif.

Mindfully check in with yourself, intentionally, at multiple points throughout each day. Use your breath to connect with your inner self and ask, what do I need? Then wait and listen. The first dozen times I did this, I would receive an answer and immediately discount it, thinking, “That can't be it.” But it was! It might be as simple as '” need water” or “I need to go to the bathroom.” It can be surprising to realize how often we simply ignore those basic needs that our body tries to tell us to attend to. — Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, Therapy Chat Podcast, Severna Park, Md.

Listen to music you love for self-care

Pay attention to things you are already doing that could be transformed into self-care. If you are already feeling overwhelmed, do not feel like you have to add more things onto your plate. Rather than wolfing down your lunch at your desk, actually enjoy and savor your food. If you’re in the car, put on music that you love listening to rather than surfing the radio stations getting frustrated. Look for opportunities to connect and enjoy your experiences that are already present. — Agnes Wainman, Ph.D., C. Psych., London Psychological Services, London, Ontario

Incorporate micro self-care into your day. Taking care of yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go on a weekend spa retreat (although that sounds amazing). Micro self-care means adding small, regular habits into your daily routine that allow you to feel re-energized, more balanced and better able to cope with your day. In an article on micro self-care in Psychotherapy Networker, Ashley Davis Bush, points out that a one-minute grounding exercise, such as listening awareness or breath awareness, at the beginning or in the middle of your day can help keep your focus on the here and now, and you’ll worry less about what’s next. — Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC, Progression Counseling, Annapolis, Md.


You can also listen to the Therapy Chat Podcast Episode #50 where more therapists share their personal favorite self-care tips.

I hope you’ve found this series on self-care to be helpful. If you’d like some support as you make self-care a greater priority in your life, call me for a free 15-minute phone consultation at 410-340-8469.

Photo by Freestock and Daniela Cuevas, for Unsplash.com


Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is an Annapolis counselor who works to help people manage their stress and anxiety. She owns and operates Progression Counseling in Annapolis, MD.

4 Ways Music Can Reduce Your Anxiety

This week I have the privilege to share a post from guest blogger Maya Benatar, a music therapist and psychotherapist in New York City. I've felt music's influence on me and on my moods throughout my life. Whether I'm dancing, driving with the radio cranked up, seeing live music, or using music for background entertainment, I find that it generates some very strong emotions. I love that Maya incorporates music into therapy. Check out her ideas on using music to manage anxiety, and leave a comment below!


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I have found that the kind of music that helps people with their anxiety can vary greatly. Some people can really sink into slow and peaceful music that helps them breathe and calm, while others really need to move the anxiety out energetically – to “shake it off”, so to speak (apologies to Taylor Swift!). Some people love toning, and others have no idea what it is (if that’s you, keep reading!). You may find that on certain days or in certain situations you respond differently to different types of music. This is completely typical – music is not a “one size fits all” kind of thing.

Here are some ideas to try – if music is not part of your self-care routine, there’s no time like the present to start.

1. Sound it. Toning is singing a vowel sound, or syllable, for the length of an exhalation. Some vowel sounds I like to play around with are “ah” “oo” and “ee”. Take an inhale through your nose, and as you exhale allow the sound to slide out on top of the breath. It doesn’t matter what pitch you sing, the quality of the sound, or its duration. Just imagine your anxiety flowing out of your body with the tone. Try 5-10 of these and see if you notice any physical or emotional shifts. You can experiment with toning on low or high pitches, different vowel sounds, lying down or sitting up. You may notice that your voice will sound different depending on how you’re feeling physically, the time of day, or your mood – that’s perfectly okay. Toning is more about the release of emotion and sound, and much less about sounding like a rock star.

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2. Listen to it. Experiment with different kinds of music to listen to. Sometimes when you’re anxious you may need to listen to something upbeat and rhythmic – try 80s music or hard rock or disco or whatever you like. At other times, you may find your anxiety soothed by slow, calm music – I’m personally partial to the cello, but there are many genres and artists that could potentially soothe you – maybe classical or Erykah Badu or John Legend. Allow yourself to not know exactly what will work for you, and give yourself some time and space to figure it out. You may be surprised by what you find – often my clients with anxiety feel soothed by music that’s not “typically relaxing” and that’s more than okay! Notice any pre-conceived ideas about what music you “should” find relaxing. Be open to something outside of the box – one of my go-to songs for anxious moments is “On My Way Home” by Pentatonix. Not your typical relaxing Bach piece, but it works for me!

3. Move it. This ties into the listening mentioned in number 2, but movement is often helpful for anxiety. Whether that’s dancing, playing air guitar, drumming on your steering wheel, or doing yoga to music is up to you. I also suggest noticing the rhythm and energy of your body as you move through your anxiety – what would your anxiety sound like if you played it on a drum? Where do you feel it in your body? What part of your body feels easy and free, instead of anxious? Sometimes anxiety needs to be expressed as it is – in its shakiness and stuckness – rather than just soothed. This relates directly to how sometimes you may need to have people hear and validate that you’re anxious, rather than just soothe or placate you.

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4. Be still. If reading or journaling or meditating doesn’t work for you, perhaps try making a ritual of sound and stillness. You could sit quietly with eyes closed and listen to one favorite song, play a small bell or singing bowl – let each tone fade away before playing the next, or simply sit quietly and listen to the sounds around you, whether you’re inside or outside. See what sounds you notice if you pause right now, just for a moment. You may notice the sound of your own breathing, people around you, birds outside – or something completely unexpected!

Music can be a powerful way to practice gentle self-care and reduce your anxiety. What kind of music helps you feel less anxious? Leave me a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

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Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT is a music therapist and psychotherapist in New York City. She helps women slow down their busy lives, reduce anxiety and worry through creative expression & become confident and calm in relationships, at work, and in everyday life. Maya also offers engaging presentations for healthcare professionals, educators, and stressed out adults. Get Maya’s free guided relaxation audio track to slow down and practice gentle self-care today.


Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is an Annapolis therapist who helps people manage their anxiety and stress.