It’s normal for kids to have back-to-school anxiety, here’s how to help – FOX 13 Tampa

With the first day of school set for Wednesday in most districts, child health experts say heading back to the classroom can trigger an upswing in anxiety in a lot of kids.

When you consider the potential stressors, it’s not hard to see why, especially for the youngest students. Separating from parents, managing peer groups, and meeting academic expectations are all factors, writes Julia Martin Burch, PhD for Harvard Health Publishing. That’s not to mention navigating loud, crowded hallways and cafeterias.

This is why it’s normal for kids to experience some anxiety leading up to the new school year, Dr. Martin Burch says, and for parents to notice a rise in worries. 

For example, your child might ask questions about what their new classroom or teacher will be like. Maybe they’re nervous about riding the bus. They might worry about having all of their school supplies ready or experience some trouble falling asleep in the days leading up to the start of school.

READ: Hillsborough teachers, staff trained in mental health awareness ahead of new school year

But for some kids, especially ones who already struggle with anxiety, Dr. Martin Burch writes, there’s an elevated level of stress that you might see signaled by their behavior.

Examples of behaviors that suggest your child is experiencing above-average anxiety around the return to school include:

  • Continually seeking reassurance or asking repeated, worried questions despite already receiving an answer. “What if my friends are not in my class? When will I see them? What if I don’t have anyone to sit with at lunch because I have no friends? Will I be okay?”
  • Increased physical complaints, such as headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue in the absence of an actual illness.
  • A significant change in sleep pattern, such as taking an hour to fall asleep when a child normally goes to sleep quickly or waking you up with worries during the night when a child typically sleeps well.
  • Avoiding school-related activities, such as school tours, teacher meet-and-greets, or avoiding school itself once the year starts

Dr. Wendy Rice is a Tampa-based licensed psychologist and founder of Rice Psychology Group. When asked specifically about how to prepare anxious elementary students for the return to school, this is the message she has for parents to share with their kids:

“If kids say something mean to you, or today you get left out, or if you raise your hand, and you answer a question incorrectly, it’s okay,” she tells parents to say to their kids. “You’re growing up, experimenting, you’re trying. You don’t know all the answers, and you’re not an ‘expert friend’ and neither are the kids you’re trying to be friends with!”

The number one thing, she says, is for parents to express compassion for their kids if they’re struggling through the academic and social demands that come with the end of summer and the start of school. What’s more, she says it’s critical for parents to teach kids how to have compassion for themselves.

At Harvard, Dr. Martin Burch offers the following advice on how parents can help with back-to-school anxiety:

  • Approach anxiety instead of avoiding it. It’s natural to want to allow your child to avoid situations that make her anxious or reassure her that her worries won’t come true. However, this can actually contribute to a vicious cycle that reinforces anxiety in the long term. Instead, acknowledge your child’s emotion and then help her think through small steps she might take to approach, rather than avoid, her worries. For example, you might say, “It sounds like you’re feeling anxious about riding the school bus by yourself. Would you be up for checking out the bus stop with me this afternoon?” Give lots of attention and praise to any “brave” behaviors rather than to her anxiety. “I love how willing you were to take the bus this morning! Great job pushing back on the worry bully!”
  • Practice school routines. For example, before the start of the year, you and your child might do a school day walk-through of the morning routine: waking up, eating breakfast, packing his school bag, and traveling to school. School tours or meet-and-greet days can be great opportunities to practice navigating the school environment and tolerating any anxiety in a low-stakes situation. After practice runs, debrief with your child on successes and challenges. Support your child in problem-solving around difficult points. For example, if he worries that he will have trouble finding his new classrooms, help him think through who he could ask for assistance if that occurs.
  • Model behavior you’d like to see. When an anxious child refuses to get onto the school bus or has a tantrum about attending school, it’s natural to feel frustrated, harried, and anxious yourself. However, try to model the calm behavior you would like to see in your child. Take deep breaths from your belly. Remind yourself that your child’s behavior is being driven by anxiety.
  • If necessary, step away from the situation to take a few minutes to breathe and engage in a mindfulness strategy, such as counting all of the objects of a certain color or shape in the room around you.
  • Ensure enough sleep. The shift from a summer wake-up schedule to the school year wake-up time can be very challenging for many children, particularly preteens. Fatigue and crankiness from not getting enough sleep can make children much more vulnerable to anxiety. To combat this, consider moving your child’s wake-up time earlier and earlier in short increments in the weeks leading up to the start of school. Additionally, leave screens (TV, phone, computer) outside the bedroom at night.
  • At the middle school level, Dr. Rice says parents should be taking the following approach with students, especially if they’re anxious about heading back to school.

“You sort of say, ‘Hey, what went well today?’ or ‘What was rough today?’ And then let the kids talk. Control your face. Try not to put on a judgmental face and just say, ‘Ok.’ And if you’re bursting because you need to make a suggestion, and you can’t contain yourself any longer, you can say to them, ‘Hey, thanks for telling me. Did you want me to just listen today?’ Or, ‘Do you want me to share some thoughts with you?'”

She went on to explain that if your kid says they really just want you to listen today, parents should do everything that can to respect such requests, even if you are bursting. “Because then, your kid is going to come talk to you again,” Dr. Rice said.

RELATED: New programs, incentives aim to recruit and retain educators as ‘burned out’ teachers pursue other professions

High school students are not immune to back-to-school anxiety, even if they might try to play it off. By now, students are thinking about test scores and college admissions. They’re balancing academics with athletics and other activities. They may be managing more complex relationships with peers and facing increased social stressors.

Dr. Rice said that at this age, teenagers do still need their parents as ‘cheerleaders’- a support system, but that they don’t want their parents to solve their problems for them.

“They need to be able to talk things through,” she said. She also underlined one of the biggest stress factors for students at this particular stage: the pressure to decide early on what their plans are after graduation.

“If you have a child who knows what they want to be, terrific,” Dr. Rice tells parents. “And if you don’t, let them know that they are kids, and this is a time for developing their identity, and trying different things on. Allow them that freedom and be the voice that is different from what schools are telling them, because some schools, the teachers and the guidance counselors are towing the party line.”

Dr Rice went on to point out that there are alternatives to a four-year degree after graduating high school, including technical college, gap years, internships, and service projects. She said the pressure of post-grad planning has increased dramatically over the years, and that it’s OK if your student chooses to take a different route.

“Show support; give your student time to think about what’s next,” she says, and above all, don’t add to the pressure they’re likely feeling already.

Some parents may wonder when to seek additional help for a child’s worries about heading back to class. Dr. Martin Burch writes that if such concerns start to interfere with his or her ability and willingness to attend a school or participate in other normal activities, such as camp, beloved sports, or play dates, consider consulting with a licensed mental health professional who specializes in child anxiety. 

5 Expert-Approved Anxiety Relief Products to Help Cope and Stay Calm During Hard Times – Seventeen

best anxiety relief products 2022

Retailers/Design by Yoora Kim

There are so many safe spaces to discuss anxiety, and they all are well needed. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that over 6.8 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, and 15 million others have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. As more people indulge in self-care practices to improve their overall well-being, many search for anxiety relief products to help cope with their struggles.

According to neuropsychologist and Comprehend The Mind director, Dr. Sanam Hafeez, anxiety is the “feeling of fear, worry, and dread that can sometimes come as a normal stress reaction.” Anxiety often results in nervousness, increased heart rate, sweating, feelings of danger, faintness, chest pain, rapid breathing, and insomnia. Dr. Hafeez suggests talking to a professional therapist or a loved one to help “reduce emotional distress” and provide “an unbiased opinion” as one solution to help relieve anxiety. She also suggests discovering what triggers your anxiety to “develop coping mechanisms to manage your anxiety,” avoid situations that make you anxious, and prepare yourself when faced with your triggers. Dr. Hafeez credits exercise as another helpful tool because it releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings throughout the body.

Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, stresses the importance of social connection to help manage anxiety. “Social connection is vital to emotional and physical well-being,” she tells Seventeen. “It impacts our level of happiness, the risk for heart disease, susceptibility to viruses, and even our longevity. Social connection is thought to be a fundamental human need,” she says. Eventbrite recognized the importance of social connection and its impact on anxiety and launched its Social Connection Project to help promote social connection and mental well-being among Gen Z. The Multi-phase project is backed by celebs like Marsai Martin and Lady Gaga and provides a curated collection of free events to help encourage social connections among the youth.

Managing anxiety looks different for everyone. L-theanine and magnesium are two dietary supplements that can aid in reducing anxiety. Dr. Hafeez does note that while supplements are helpful, they may not be safe when used with prescription medication, so check with your doctor before introducing any supplements into your routine. She also confirmed that having pets can also lessen anxiety. According to Dr. Hafeez, petting a dog or cat can be proven to lower blood pressure. Along with the informative tips by Dr. Hafeez and Dr. Holt-Lunstad, there are more tangible ways to relieve your anxiety. If you’re looking for new methods to manage or cope with your stress, read ahead for expert-recommended anxiety relief products that help keep you calm.

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Behavioral intervention reduces depression, anxiety in adults with obesity | UIC Today – UIC Today

Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash

Results from a pilot clinical trial show that among a racially and ethnically diverse cohort of adults who were obese and depressed, an integrated behavioral intervention was more effective than usual care at reducing depression and associated anxiety symptoms than it was at promoting weight loss.

Using functional brain imaging, the University of Illinois Chicago researchers who led the study also found that among those participating in the intervention, neural processes involved in cognitive control changed and were predictive of anxiety symptom reductions. 

While the UIC researchers think the timing of the trial — which overlapped with the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic from March to August 2020 — may have impacted the weight loss results, they say the positive effects on depression and anxiety symptoms and correlation with specific neural processes are evidence of the effectiveness and potential underlying mechanism of the integrated behavioral intervention.  

“The link between our brain and behavior is powerful, and this growing body of evidence shows us that whole-person, integrated behavioral therapy can offer hope for some of our most challenging health conditions — obesity and depression, for example, being both highly prevalent and notoriously tricky to treat,” said study lead author Dr. Jun Ma, the Beth and George Vitoux Professor of Medicine and director of Vitoux Program on Aging and Prevention at the UIC College of Medicine.

A new paper in Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science describes the findings of the study, which enrolled more than 100 people from UIC and its health system and randomly assigned them to receive either usual care or the intervention.  

The majority of study participants were women (76%) around 47 years old, and more than two-thirds self-identified as Black (55%) or Latino (20%). 

Dr. Jun Ma.

Participants who received usual care (35 participants) were advised to continue routine medical care and were provided with a summary of behavioral health and weight management services, as well as a wearable activity tracker. Participants who participated in the integrated behavioral intervention (71 participants) received therapy from a trained health coach and a weight loss video program. The therapy involved a seven-step problem-solving and behavioral activation strategy, delivered as first-line treatment, along with antidepressant medications as needed for depression management.  

The weight loss video program was adapted from the highly successful Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle intervention, which Ma previously demonstrated was effective in obese patients without depression. The integrated intervention is innovative because it combines problem-solving therapy and the weight loss video program, given that obesity is highly comorbid with depression and anxiety. 

“Consistent with our hypothesis, we found that clinical improvements in anxiety were preceded by changes in activation and connectivity improvements in brain regions involved in emotion regulation and furthermore are targeted by treatments like repetitive transcranial stimulation and cognitive behavioral therapy,” said Dr. Olusola Ajilore, associate professor of psychiatry and a co-first author of the study 

Symptoms of depression were assessed with a 20-item symptom checklist and symptoms of anxiety through a seven-item scale, and weight was measured by research staff. Baseline results were compared with six-month results. Brain activity was measured with functional MRI in response to research standardized photos of threatening, sad or happy faces, for example, at baseline and two months. 

A significantly higher percentage of participants in the intervention group compared with usual care group achieved remission of depressive symptoms (43% vs. 22%) and anxiety symptoms (63% vs. 39%) at six months, but percentages of participants achieving 3% or 5% weight loss at six months did not differ significantly by group. 

Anxiety score changes significantly correlated with brain activity changes in specific regions of the prefrontal cortex that are responsible for cognitive control, and the correlations differed between the intervention and usual care groups.  

“Taken together, these and our previous results imply the potential for enhancing the innovative integrated behavioral intervention we developed with other treatment strategies targeted at the specific regions of the brain involved in cognition and emotion regulation in order to combat obesity and depression and anxiety,” Ma said. 

Leanne Williams of Stanford University is also a principal investigator and senior author of the study.  

Additional co-authors of the paper, “Mediating Effects of Neural Targets on Depression, Weight, and Anxiety Outcomes of an Integrated Collaborative Care Intervention: The ENGAGE-2 Mechanistic Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial,” are Nan Lv, Lan Xiao, Elizabeth Venditti, Philip Lavori, Ben Gerber, Mark Snowden, Nancy Wittels, Corina Ronneberg, Patrick Stetzm, Amruta Barv, Rohit Shrestha, Sushanth Dosala, Vikas Kumar, Tessa Eckley, Andrea Goldstein-Piekarski, Joshua Smyth, Lisa Rosas, Thomas Kannampallil, John Zulueta and Trisha Suppes. Co-authors represent researchers from UIC, Stanford University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Massachusetts, University of Washington, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Pennsylvania State University, and Washington University. 

This research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (UH2HL132368 and UH3HL132368).   

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Digital therapeutic improves symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, depression for 6 months – Healio

August 01, 2022

1 min read

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Data from a real-world study revealed that treatment with prescription digital therapeutic Somryst achieved reductions in symptoms of insomnia, anxiety and depression, per a late-breaking poster at the SLEEP meeting.

Somryst is the only FDA-authorized prescription digital therapeutic for the treatment of chronic insomnia, manufacturer Pear Therapeutics stated in a related press release.

Source: Adobe Stock.
Source: Adobe Stock.

“Chronic insomnia is often associated with depression and anxiety so it’s important to evaluate the impact of insomnia treatment on such psychiatric comorbidities,” Yuri Maricich, MD, MBA, Pear Therapeutics chief medical officer and head of development, said in the release. “We seek to measure not only impact on nighttime sleep but also effect on daytime impairment.”

According to the release, the DREAM study is a remote, virtual, open-label, decentralized trial that included 993 U.S. adult patients, aged 22 to 75 years, with chronic insomnia who had access to a mobile device. Results showed that those treated with Somryst for 9 weeks with recommended cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia had reductions in symptoms of insomnia severity immediately following treatment and 6 months later. Scores for depression and anxiety also decreased significantly, researchers reported.

Interim data analysis in early 2022 revealed that the average Insomnia Severity Index score (scale 0-28) at baseline among those included in the trial was 23.9, which improved to 14.5 at the end of treatment and 16.7 after 6 months. The average score on the Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale (0-24) at baseline among participants with severe depression was 21.4, which decreased to 12.7 at the end of treatment and sustained a score of 12.3 at 6 months. Lastly, average Generalized Anxiety Disorder scores (0-21) among participants with severe anxiety was 17.6 at baseline and 10.8 at the end of treatment and at 6 months.

“We’re encouraged by the durable response seen in this interim real-world analysis of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia delivered by Somryst and look forward to seeing additional data from the DREAM trial,” Maricich said in the release.

You, Your Cat, and Anxiety or Depression –

Research suggests cat ownership aids — and hinders — anxiety and depression. Here’s how cats can influence mental health.

Feline friends are known for being the perfect antidote when you’re feeling down or stressed, with strokes, snuggles, and gentle purrs helping put smiles back onto faces.

As such, it’s little surprise that over 45 million U.S. households are home to at least one kitty.

However, having a cat around isn’t always smooth sailing for some. Pet ownership has also been linked to an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Scientific research into the effects of cats on our mental well-being is mixed.

“Having a cat has shown to have a positive impact on mental health, depression, and anxiety, for many reasons and in many ways,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Cassandra Fallon, the regional clinic director at Thriveworks in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


One smaller 2017 study found cat owners reported significantly lower feelings of depression than dog owners, and other research below explores how cats can influence specific symptoms.

For example, loneliness is a key symptom of depression, and feeling lonely has also been associated with the condition’s development.

However, having a cat can help combat this by “giving [their humans] a sense of being needed [and] providing companionship,” explains Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, aveterinarian at Cat World and director of Kingsgate Animal Hospital in Texas.

A 2006 study found single women (compared to those living with a partner or children) who had a pet were less likely to exhibit depressive symptoms.

Pet ownership has also been found to alleviate depression after losing a loved one.

Researchers in 2013 linked depression with high blood pressure. However, “having the ability to interact with cats has been shown to decrease blood pressure,” says Dr, Janet Cutler, a Canadian-based certified cat behaviorist, and expert at Cat World.


But it’s not just depression symptoms cats can assist in easing: Our feline pals can also aid in lowering feelings of anxiety.

Researchers in 2008 found that 44% of cat owners obtained “a sense of safety” from their cats.

Compared to non-pet owners, other researchers discovered those with furry friends reported less anxiety. Studies have also found cats (and animals in general) beneficial in reducing anxiety among children with autism and students.

Cats’ soothing influence may stem from a physiological effect, states Whittenburg. “Petting or cuddling your cat can reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your body,” she says. “This leads to feelings of calm and happiness, decreased heart rate and blood pressure, and a calming of anxiety.”

Furthermore, adds Fallon, being around a cat can help take our minds off negative thoughts. “Physical touch and having a cat to care for helps us to focus on a bigger picture than our internal [challenges].”

While this evidence all sounds great, there’s research indicating that owning a cat — or pets in general — has no effect on depression or anxiety. For some, it can even make mental health symptoms worse.

A 2020 study of adults 50 and older found no difference in depressive symptoms between pet owners and those without pets.

Meanwhile, having high attachment levels to a pet increased symptoms of depression and loneliness in a 2010 study. New Zealand researchers saw that those folks living alone with pets, “were more likely to report diagnoses of depression and anxiety.”

Two separate Japanese studies also explored the influence of cat ownership on adolescents and pregnant people, respectively.

Both found that those with cats had poorer mental health. While the reasons why were unclear, researchers suggested it may be due to cat owners:

  • being associated with lower levels of self-esteem
  • getting less exercise and time outdoors (compared to those with dogs)

When it comes to anxiety, symptoms may also be exacerbated by behaviors and activities associated with ownership.

Especially if you’re a new owner, “it can be a challenge,” says Fallon. “Not knowing how to care for basic needs can promote worry and anxiety about doing anything that may hurt them.”

Other factors can cause or heighten anxiety, too. Cutler explains that some stressors can include:

  • training
  • behavior problems
  • litter box issues
  • medical concerns
  • care of the cat if you have to be away from home
  • financial responsibilities associated with ownership

It’s not just people that experience trauma, depression, and anxiety: animals can, too. For instance, felines can develop separation anxiety and feel heightened stress when away from their owner.

Furthermore, as intuitive creatures, “cats are sensitive to the emotions and feelings of their owners,” notes Whittenburg, and they can “sense these emotions and may become anxious.”

According to Cutler, signs of cat anxiety include:

  • aggression
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • hiding or trying to escape
  • increased meowing or other vocalizations
  • pacing or difficulty relaxing
  • increased grooming

“Any of these signs should prompt a trip to your veterinarian,” adds Whittenburg.

Does ‘transference’ apply to pets?

If you experience depression, however, you don’t need to worry about “passing” symptoms on to your feline.

“It is my opinion that depression is not contagious, and a clinically depressed owner does not pose a danger to the mental health of their cat, as long as they can properly care for [it],” Whittenburg says. “I do not think a cycle will be established between pet and owner.”

As Whittenburg points out, “every human and every mental health diagnosis is different.” So, if you have depression or anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily mean that owning a cat will heighten symptoms.

However, she recommends that “owners speak to their physician prior to obtaining a new pet if there is a possibility that the stress of caring for [it] may worsen their condition.”

If you’re experiencing depression or anxiety, remember support is always at hand. Fallon advises that potential treatments include:

  • talk therapy
  • medication
  • participation in other activities that can lead to improved symptoms

And, if your cat’s behavior or stress regarding its care contributes to your symptoms, you can speak with a vet about “support that is needed or education on the unknowns,” Fallon adds.

Millions of people have a feline friend and report that ownership brings joy, security, and companionship. Study findings also support such benefits.

However, some research has found that being a cat parent can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression. This may be due to factors such as ownership-related finances, naughty cat behaviors, and preexisting confidence and esteem issues.

More investigation — specifically around cats — needs to be conducted to understand better how the human-feline relationship can impact mental health. In the meantime, if you think your cat is contributing to your anxiety or depression, you can ask a doctor or vet about steps that could help.

Still curious about pets and our mental health? You can take a deeper dive by visiting our Pet Central Hub.

Is Anger And Anxiety In The Workplace The New Normal? – Forbes

There is no stronger human reaction than the one you have when you feel threatened. As I see it, a lot of people feel threatened now, by changes in society, legal rights, and a general sense of prevalent danger, including the new highly contagious strains of covid and now Monkey Pox—a concern I heard from a major corporate customer this week. Rates of anger, anxiety, and aggression are accelerating—for the third consecutive year. In Gallup’s 2022 workforce poll, 44% of the world’s employees experienced anxiety, anger and/or sadness a lot of the previous day. The Harvard Business Review, once the resource for ideas like just-in-time manufacturing, just published an article on How to Manage Your Anger at Work.

The latest Mercer Report shows that 81% of workers are burned out. Employers are struggling with high rates of mental health issues and continued shortages of practitioners, causing staggering wait times for employees and their families.

Starbucks last week announced they were closing stores in five cities due to incidents that make it unsafe to operate. As Starbucks said, Employees are “seeing firsthand the challenges facing our communities—personal safety, racism, lack of access to healthcare, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use, and more,” they wrote, adding that “with stores in thousands of communities across the country, we know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too.”

With violence at schools, concerts, baseball games (one directly involving one of my employees and her family), stores and now airports, fear of safety is factoring into daily decisions—and this inevitably permeates the workplace atmosphere.

I bring this up not as a commentator on business trends and culture but as a longtime leader in the field of human well-being, especially as it impacts our workforces. These accelerating trends are now the new normal in our lives and thus as business leaders we must recognize and reckon with the reality that effective mental health support—preventive and clinical—is now a core talent strategy and an essential for business success. Why? Because the cultural forces at play are impacting workers. Incidents that seemed like distant, unlikely tragedies may now feel much more real—that is certainly true in my company. And that feeling is universal. We are all becoming just a couple of degrees of separation from these events and this will take a toll on business progress and opportunity.


What can business leaders do? Plenty. This is a moment for leaders to focus on the welfare of their workforces and speak out about the society we all live in. It is our work to do: Employees still trust their employers more than any other institution (government, media, etc.). And while our immediate instinct might be to simply lower the temperature and get back to work, simply asking people to calm down may leave people thinking you don’t understand them or the peril they feel. It’s a time to be hyper-vigilant about what’s actually going on with your workforce. Three suggestions:

  • Get a regular read on the stress, work/life balance, burnout and engagement metrics of your people.
  • Leverage those insights to make adjustments to policy and resources to address physical and psychological safety.
  • Support people preventively: The whole team needs the psychological skills to handle their stress in productive ways and be able to identify and reach out to a team member who is struggling. A workforce can be a force for growth through the hardest times. Offer support without false reassurance that the threats to personal welfare and rights are not serious.

The thing about anxiety and anger that grows to aggression is that it is no longer an individual challenge to manage, it is a collective challenge. We need to help our teams get in front of problems so they can get behind opportunities.

I Grilled a Life Coach and Her Tips Will Transform Your Mindset – The Everygirl

Racing thoughts, pounding heartbeat, heaviness in my chest, the all-consuming, sometimes debilitating sense of fear—just some of the unnerving ways anxiety shows up like an unannounced, unwelcome guest. If you’re one of the 40 million adults in the U.S. who experience anxiety like me, said symptoms are hard to shake off. While it may be comforting to know we’re in good company, having a handful of coping mechanisms at the ready to work through bouts of anxiety can make all the difference. Because–let’s be real– sometimes no amount of logic will cut it. I turned to Alana Warlop, a psychotherapist and life coach, to get the lowdown on her anxiety tips for reclaiming your calmness when it strikes. We got this. 

Meet the expert
Alana Warlop
Life Coach
Alana Warlop is a spiritual psychotherapist and transformational coach who has guided countless women into next levels of leadership and impact. From traditional transpersonal therapy to utilizing breathwork and meditation, she has spent much of her life learning what it means to heal and experience a life beyond limits.

What is anxiety exactly?

Sure, I could try to pinpoint the all-too-familiar ways that anxiety manifests itself for me, but it looks different for everyone. For some, it’s constant, and for others, it’s triggered by a stressful situation (looking at you, health scare) or creeps up out of nowhere when everything was coming up roses. Putting into words what anxiety really is can help us identify and take control of it, no matter the person. “[Anxiety is] a crafty way of distracting your attention and holding the energy of your awareness hostage in a never-ending search for a ‘solution’ that alleviates the discomfort that you are experiencing,” explained Warlop. “We perseverate in hopes that we can find a logical reason why we feel hurt, depressed, judged, shamed, guilty, blamed, or self-critical. And, if we know why, then we think the reasoning will justify our feelings and they will settle.” Warlop warned that that approach rarely works, and if it does, it’s only for the short-term.

But why doesn’t reasoning work, you ask? “Anxiety is a product of stuck, stale, or stagnant emotional energy and incomplete trauma patterns pent up in the nervous system,” Warlop elaborated. “Emotions and traumas that are unresolved stay stuck in our bodies and build in their power to hijack the limbic and nervous systems, which control our behavior above and beyond any logic you could ever muster.” Long story short, at the root of it, anxiety is the mind’s natural defense against having to feel or experience something painful. While you should always talk to your doctor or therapist if experiencing anxiety, Warlop lets us in on some hacks you can try to not only manage anxiety but to heal from it so it doesn’t get in the way of living your best lives

Tips to help during moments of anxiety:

Bring awareness to your breath

There is no shortage of “take a deep breath” memes floating on the world wide web, but it’s for good reason. The practice has become the go-to method in times of stress, and Warlop emphasized that it’s one of the best things you can do when experiencing anxiety. “Feel the breath move in and out of the body so that the attention from the mind goes into the body,” she instructed. “Let the body know that it is safe to experience all that is there and then ask, ‘What am I afraid to feel?’” 

Warlop also suggested moving your attention to the heart: “Imagine breathing a beautiful, warm, golden energy into the heart space with every breath. Let this light grow in size and calming power inside you. This will also move you forward into soothing yourself, instead of wasting energy searching for a solution to an unanswerable (and, most of the time, made up) problem or insecurity.”

Feel your feelings

Having feelings is as natural and involuntary as breathing, but Warlop clarified that feeling is simply a physical sensation and anything beyond that are stories and perceptions that we attach to the feeling. “We are conditioned to think about our feelings instead of actually feeling them, so many people I work with have no idea that they don’t actually know how to feel feelings without telling stories and attaching meaning to them,” she stated. On the other hand, shifting your focus from what’s going on outside of you to your internal experience of your senses, energy, and emotions (AKA “felt sense”) will bring your awareness to the present moment. The result? There is nothing that you cannot truly feel, and allowing yourself to really feel everything that comes along with anxiety will help kick it to the curb.

Don’t judge your thoughts

I’m no stranger to thoughts taking over my mind and spiraling further into an anxious episode. You know, like “What if things don’t work out,” “Nobody likes me,” or “I’m not good enough.” Warlop advised giving myself space to be curious about those beliefs and distracting myself from them, rather than reacting to them: “Carry around an essential oil you love to smell when you can start to feel yourself going in the direction of repetitive and worrisome thoughts. Brush your fingertips along the skin of your arm or face, and focus on the pleasant sensation. Put on calming music and focus on the sound frequencies.” In other words, tap into all of your senses—sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing—to instantly bring you back to the present moment.  

Take care of your basic needs every day

PSA: Anxiety is the body’s way of letting you know that it is in distress and needs more care. Call it self-care or creating a solid, foolproof routine, but prioritizing basic health and wellness habits is Warlop’s non-negotiable. If you’re not catching enough Zzzs, I’ve got (bad) news for you: Lack of sleep makes the list of top culprits of anxiety. Warlop suggested forgoing your daily nightcap or the next episode in your Netflix cue and letting your body reset. “7-9 hours of sleep, good nutrition, nature time, and working out are essential in shifting the inner landscape,” she stressed. “And for added bonus points, try meditation. Consistent meditation is a game-changer in resetting your nervous and limbic systems.”

These tips are not meant to serve as treatment for anxiety disorder. If you are struggling with anxiety, please reach out to your doctor, a therapist, or another trusted professional for support.
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The 333 Rule for Anxiety and Other Coping Strategies – Healthline

The 333 rule is a common and informal technique for coping with anxiety. Its purpose is to help you ground yourself and calm down in a moment where you are feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed.

The 333 rule involves looking around your current environment and:

  • naming 3 things you see
  • identifying 3 sounds you hear
  • moving or touching 3 things, such as your limbs or external objects

While there is no formal research into the effectiveness of the 333 rule, many people find it to be a helpful and simple technique to handle anxiety. Although it won’t completely get rid of your anxiety, it can be a useful tool to manage it in the moment.

The 333 rule is not a substitute for treatment, no matter how helpful it may be to you or how frequently you use it. We’ll review other methods for coping with anxiety aside from the 333 rule and common treatment options for anxiety and anxiety disorders.

Along with treatments like medication and therapy, you can try other coping techniques for anxiety. These coping techniques can be helpful if:

  • You are in between therapy sessions.
  • You choose not to take medication or cannot take medication.
  • You are looking for additional ways to manage anxiety in the moment.

General coping techniques can include:

  • Take a time-out: Remove yourself from the situation and do something different, like listening to your favorite music or doing some stretching.
  • Minimize alcohol and caffeine intake: Both alcohol and caffeine can make anxiety worse and cause mood shifts.
  • Laugh more: Humor naturally relaxes us.
  • Take care of your body: Make sure to get enough sleep and eat balanced meals.
  • Try mindfulness: Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and the feelings passing through you.
  • Pay attention to your breathing: Use breathwork, which refers to different breathing techniques that can help reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Meditate: Practice meditation to calm and re-center your body and mind (this activity could include breathwork and mindfulness, but not always).
  • Lower stress: Try other stress reduction exercises like tai chi or yoga.
  • Ease physical tension: Consider trying massage or acupuncture to address physical tension anxiety creates in your body.

Many of these coping strategies may also fall under the lifestyle changes treatment approach for anxiety.

Lifestyle modifications can help you manage anxiety. While these are not the same as medical treatment, they can complement a treatment regimen to reduce the effects of anxiety on your day-to-day life.

Most people feel occasional anxiety — it’s a common part of life. People have temporary anxiety about their work, health concerns, family, or relationships. For example, maybe you get particularly anxious or nervous before a big presentation or event.

When anxiety becomes overwhelming or chronic, it can interfere with your ability to function in daily life and lower your overall quality of life as a result. This can lead to avoiding responsibilities, activities, and people. It can also cause tension at work, school, and home.

If anxiety affects your life to this degree, it may be more than occasional anxious feelings. You may have an anxiety disorder.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, common anxiety disorders include:

  • General anxiety disorder (GAD): GAD is a general, persistent feeling of anxiety.
  • Panic disorder: Panic disorder is when you have frequent and recurring panic attacks.
  • Social anxiety: With social anxiety, you may have a strong, persistent fear of being judged or observed by others, which may impair your ability to be in social situations.
  • Phobia-related disorders that involve irrational fear of a specific thing: These include agoraphobia, acrophobia, or claustrophobia.

If you believe you or a loved one are exhibiting signs of an anxiety disorder, it may be time to get help. You’re not alone, and anxiety is very treatable.

While many of the coping strategies mentioned earlier are helpful, they don’t address the underlying cause of anxiety, and they may not be enough to fully treat it.

Therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes are considered the gold standard treatment.

Therapy is an effective treatment for many different types of anxiety. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, types of therapy that can be helpful for dealing with anxiety include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thought and behavior patterns.
  • Exposure therapy: In exposure therapy, you will be slowly exposed to a feared situation to help the fear response diminish over time.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): This type of therapy uses strategies of living in the moment and refraining from judgment, along with behavior change, to cope with anxiety.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT combines CBT techniques with meditation concepts.
  • Interpersonal therapy: This is short-term supportive talk therapy that focuses on resolving interpersonal (or relational) problems.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR uses bilateral stimulation through eye movements, tapping, or tones to help heal from past experiences.

Medication is typically used along with therapy for the best possible outcome. Commonly prescribed medications for anxiety include:

  • Antidepressants: Healthcare professionals may prescribe certain kinds of antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This can include sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Anti-anxiety medications: Anti-anxiety medications may be prescription drugs from the benzodiazepine class, like alprazolam (Xanax).
  • Beta blockers: These can be used for certain situations, like social anxiety. They are blood pressure medications.

Some people with anxiety find a combination of medications works best for them. Always inform your doctor of any other medications you take to prevent adverse drug interactions.

Anxiety can significantly impact your life, especially if it becomes a severe, chronic issue.

The 333 rule for anxiety is an easy technique to remember and use in the moment if something is triggering your anxiety.

It involves looking around your environment to identify three objects and three sounds, then moving three body parts. Many people find this strategy helps focus and ground them when anxiety overwhelms them.

If your anxiety is constant or interfering in multiple areas of your life, you may need more than temporary coping strategies. Anxiety disorders can be treated with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms regularly or with severity, talk with your doctor. They can help connect you with the right mental health resources and figure out an individualized treatment plan that works for you.

How do you deal with social anxiety? – India New England


New Delhi– When meeting new people, speaking in front of a group, or taking an important test, most people feel nervous or uncomfortable. This is completely normal and usually disappears once the situation has passed. However, for some people, anxiety is more than just a passing feeling; it is chronic and can significantly interfere with daily life. This is known as Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

People with SAD frequently experience intense fear and anxiety in social situations, even when there is no obvious cause for this. They may be overly concerned with being judged or evaluated by others, and as a result, they may avoid social activities entirely. SAD can have a significant impact on work, school, and personal relationships in severe cases.

Social anxiety disorder can be a crippling condition that affects every aspect of a person’s life. Intense fear, racing heart, sweating, and difficulty speaking are all symptoms. It is critical to establish a support network of family, friends, or professionals who can offer encouragement and understanding. It is also beneficial to engage in activities that push the individual’s comfort zone on a regular basis. This can aid in gradually expanding the individual’s “comfort zone” and lowering overall anxiety. People with social anxiety can learn to cope with their condition and live fulfilling lives by taking these steps.

While there is no cure for SAD, many people find that therapy, medication, or a combination of the two can help them manage their symptoms and live a fulfilling life. If you believe you are suffering from SAD, seek help from a mental health professional.

Here are a number of things you can do on your own to help deal with social anxiety:

Challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts about yourself: If you’re constantly thinking negative things about yourself, it’s no wonder that you feel anxious in social situations! Try to catch yourself when you’re having these thoughts and reframe them in a more positive light.

Focus on the present moment: When you’re feeling anxious, it’s easy to get caught up in worrying about what could happen in the future or dwelling on past experiences. Instead, try to focus your attention on the here and now. Pay attention to your breathing and focus on the sensations you’re experiencing in your body.

Expose yourself to social situations gradually: If the thought of being in a social situation is overwhelming, start small. Maybe begin by striking up a conversation with the cashier at the grocery store or saying hello to a neighbour. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually expose yourself to more challenging situations.

Engage in relaxing activities: Doing things that help you relax can be an effective way to reduce anxiety symptoms. Some people find that yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises help them feel calm and relaxed.

Make healthy lifestyle choices: Taking care of yourself physically can also help reduce social anxiety symptoms. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are all important for managing anxiety.

Box Breathing: Box breathing is a powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique that aims to return breathing to its normal rhythm. It helps to clear the mind, relax the body, release stress, and improve focus. Inhale to the count of four, hold breath for four counts, exhale for four counts and hold the breath again for four counts. Do these for a couple of minutes as and when needed.

If you suffer from social anxiety, know that you are not alone. Many people have overcome this condition and are living happy, fulfilling lives. You, too, can do this with the right treatment and support. (IANS)

Does your child have anxiety? – Michigan Medicine

The summer months may seem a little hectic with kids home from school and new schedules to adjust to. However, it’s actually a great opportunity for you to pay closer attention to how your children behave, especially during the hours when they would normally be in a classroom.

And as summer winds down, it’ll be important to also take note if your kid seems anxious about returning to school.

For some, it could be a healthy form of anxiety in the form of excitement and anticipation for what’s to come in the new school year. Yet, for others, it may signal a more serious sign of anxiety.

But how can you tell the difference between “normal” nerves and something more serious? University of Michigan child and adolescent psychiatrists, Gregory Hanna, M.D., and Nasuh Malas, M.D., MPH, who is director of pediatric consultation and liaison psychiatry services at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, help answer that question along with screening guidelines, what “healthy” anxiety looks like, when to seek professional help and how to talk about anxiety with your kids.

What exactly is children’s anxiety?

“Anxiety is the experience that youth may have when they have distressing thoughts, worries or negative perceptions about a future or anticipated event and/or may have a limited capacity to manage distressing thoughts or worries,” said Malas.

In small doses, anxiety may be motivating, but in severe cases, it can impact many aspects of a child’s life—school, medical care, friendships, family interactions—and become debilitating.

What signs or symptoms of anxiety can you look for in your kids?

Signs of anxiety can range from child to child.

Some physical changes can include muscle tension, headaches, stomachache, restlessness, feeling their heart racing and sweating. Behaviors such as avoidance, tearfulness, withdrawal from activities, panic, irritability, or expressions of fear—all could stem from anxiety.

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Parents can pay attention to their child’s development and daily activities to watch for any debilitating signs of anxiety, Hanna says. For example, a child or adolescent who suffers from separation anxiety—which may show through constant thoughts about the safety of guardians—may have a low appetite or sleep problems.

“In this scenario, they may become fearful at night, unable to sleep alone, have fears of the next day at school without their guardian, or have a poor appetite along with stomach aches,” said Hanna. “All these signs can affect their development and interfere with usual daily life.” 

Hanna also points out to parents and caregivers that when their child is in school, having open conversations with their teachers may provide helpful insight to how the child is behaving outside of the home. Their teachers may notice if a child is being unusually shy and not interacting or participating in class. Conversely, the teacher may not be aware of behavior that could be happening at home and by parents having clear communication with teachers, a better understanding can help support the child.

Is any amount of anxiety considered “healthy”?

Yes. Anxiety is a part of daily life. When someone is feeling anxiety or stress in a non-clinical sense, they are experiencing something innately human. This could be when someone is completing tasks and has mild stress that comes in small doses like before giving a presentation or taking an exam.

SEE ALSO: Back to School Anxiety: How To Help A Child With Anxiety About School | Michigan Medicine

“It’s what can keep us out of trouble when we are preparing to cross the street, or when we go swimming in open waters such as lakes,” said Hanna. “Younger children may have developmentally appropriate fears that fade with increasing maturity, such as fears of the dark or thunderstorms.” 

When should you be concerned about anxiety in your child and seek professional help?

If anxiety is persistent and impairing, and even more so when it affects many areas a child’s life—social interactions, school, family life—this is an indication that children need mental health professional support to help manage their anxiety.

Experts also say to watch for anxiety being uncomfortable or distressing for the child. Sometimes signs of anxiety aren’t obvious, and a child appears to be managing when they’re not.

Why are children’s anxiety screening guidelines important?

Earlier this year, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, which is made up of nationally accredited medical experts, issued a draft of guidelines for anxiety screening in children starting as young as eight years old.

Experts explain that the newly drafted guidelines are important for parents to be aware of for several reasons. For one, it adds a larger focus on mental health and screening as part of primary care practices in a time where mental illness among youth is gradually rising, especially with the pandemic.

Other factors that can increase risk for anxiety include disruptions or difficulties with school, bullying, familial stress, challenges in peer interactions, and exposure to traumatic events.