The scene: “Your heart beats rapidly as though it might burst from your chest- your hands are clammy and you feel knots in your stomach- it is hard to concentrate. You know rationally that there is no reason to feel the fear that is gripping your gut but there is nothing you can do to stop it. If you have that experience, you have company. Forty four million people or 1 in 6 adults in the USA have been diagnosed with a type of anxiety disorder (NIMH)


While trauma- based anxiety requires serious psychotherapy, the following techniques can offer speedy relief with or without the use of anti anxiety medication. It is helpful however to participate in the right psychotherapy designed to teach control of anxiety in a matter of weeks -about the same amount of time it takes for certain medications to become effective.

The unpleasant feelings of physical arousal that can lead to panic, the wired feelings of tension and stress, and the obsessive thoughts that won’t go away, are three aspects of anxiety that can be helped.

Margaret Wehrenberg, a psychologist with a private practice in Lise, Illinois for more than 20 years has taught psychotherapists like myself, to use the following 10 methods to create tremendous relief for a lifetime.

Method 1: Manage the body: When you begin to use calming techniques, taking care of the body is the first line of defense. This means, developing a regular exercise program, avoiding alcohol, nicotine, sugar and caffeine and eating a high fiber highly nutritious diet.

Method 2: Breathe: Many people are aware of how well it works but don’t appreciate that it takes time to learn the right way and to practice it by doing diaphragmatic breathing one minute at a time, 10 times a day as you go about your daily routine.

Method 3: Mindful Awareness: Learn to stop catastrophic thinking and divert your attention away from the bodily symptoms of anxiety. Watch the wonderful world around you instead with all of your senses and be thankful for what IS rather than what isn’t.

Method 4: Don’t listen When Worry Calls your Name. The feeling of dread and tension can lead to headaches and pain. Learn to combine a decision to ignore the “worry voice” with a cue for a deeply relaxed state which can be easily taught by a therapist.

‘Method 5: Knowing, Not Showing, Anger. If you have a fear of anger and tend to ignore it, sit down and write down answers to this question. “If I were angry, what might I be angry about?” This is a safe way to acknowledge it while learning from it.

Method 6: Have a Little Fun. Recognize when you are taking life too seriously and make time for play and connecting with others.

Method 7: Turning it Off . Sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus on an image of an open container ready to receive every worry on your mind , cover the container and put it in a safe place. Then invite one problem in at a time followed by a peaceful thought to focus on before going about your day.

Method 8: Persistent Interuption of thoughts. Everytime you catch yourself ruminating say aloud “STOP” and replace it with a loving thought.

Method 9: Worry Well, but Only Once. Set up a time a place once a day to get all the worries over with. If it pops up just say “Stop”!

Method 10 Learn to plan instead of Worry. A good plan doesn’t need constant review. Identify the problem, list the solutions, choose one and write out a plan of action.

Do it!

Mary Lee Zetter, LCSW-C Arundel Mind Body Institute