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Get Out Of Overdrive: Managing Your Anxiety

Posted on January 2, 2014

robotYou don’t need to hit rock bottom to finally get serious about finding ways to end feeling anxious and strung-out. There is nothing heroic or magical about living in a state of overdrive — yes to everything, you over-extenders, super-producers, deadline junkies, caffeine & adrenaline high seekers (you know who you are!) — you will crash, it’s just a matter of time. Millions of adults suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Some individuals will begin anti-anxiety medications for the first time, while many sufferers are now dependent on anxiolytics, like Xanax, to fall asleep and to manage their anxiety throughout the day. As a therapist who treats anxiety and mood disorders, I know how helpful antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be for many. Without these pharmacological interventions, many would suffer serious, debilitating symptoms. Not a great way to live managing symptoms 24/7. I’m not knocking medication, but one problem that I’ve observed, is that, because of the ease of medication, anxiety sufferers fail to to try or develop helpful techniques or natural remedies first, before reaching for a pill. Many have difficulty tolerating discomfort and they’ve learned to find quick fixes as a solution. However, there are those who, armed with a little patience and motivation can learn the skills that can help them take control of their symptoms. For people struggling with situational and chronic anxiety and willing to make some lifestyle changes,  I offer these helpful tips:

  • Learn to breathe –  People prone to anxiety tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. This type of breathing is called thoracic or chest breathing which can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body, resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, tingling sensations, muscle tension, agitation and other physical sensations. These strange body sensations that anxiety sufferers experience lead to more anxiety and the concern that something really bad is happening to the body. Learn to replace automatic shallow breathing with diaphragmatic breathing. It does work, however you need to practice this and don’t give it up when your symptoms disappear. Breathing correctly is now a new way of life for you.  Proper breathing slows down or stops the fear response, but you need to make it a habit. Keep it simple in the beginning, a few minutes at a time and several times a day until you get the hang of it. You can google this on your own or use this link to learn how to practice abdominal breathing.
  • Meditation - Meditation really helps you slow down and I’ve learned to integrate it into my psychotherapy practice when appropriate. I’ve helped many of my clients add a dedicated practice to their lives to improve awareness, clarity and ultimately help them get the success and joy they desire. The simple act of attending to the present through meditation helps you release the past and your negative, limiting scripts – whatever is not serving you — and make room for the good stuff.  Learn to meditate by taking a class, private instruction or by using a guided meditation tape.  You don’t need to meditate for an hour to see benefits, 5-10 minutes daily is better than nothing and can support your emotional health. Mindfulness is a wonderful practice to help with generalized anxiety disorder or GAD.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Fear, dread, rumination and the attendant muscle tension can all be reduced by learning PMR.  Once you learn this relaxation response and have some practice under your belt, you can combat anxious thoughts by remembering how you felt during your relaxation session.  When you begin worrying, remind yourself that it’s just your “worry brain” and this is your cue to practice the relaxation techniques.  You can learn about PMR here.
  • Rumination – If you are tormented by problems and issues, commit your worries to paper then put it in a desk drawer or box to be dealt with at a later time.  The goal is to contain the problems, if even temporarily, as a means to quiet the mind. Rumination that takes over your life may need to be treated with medication.
  • Challenge your thoughts - Thought-stopping is a helpful cognitive therapy strategy for interrupting disturbing thoughts and ruminations.  In order for this to be effective, you must do this every time you feel interrupted by persistent thoughts. When you stop an automatic thought, you then replace it with a more realistic, rational thought.  You may need to do this a lot throughout the day, just so you know, because much of our negative, unhelpful self-chatter is habitual.  To learn more about thought-stopping visit about.com or WebMD.
  • Make a plan – For chronic, habitual worriers, sometimes it helps to set a timer and plan a “worry” session, then be done with it.  This begins with identifying the issue, then prioritizing and taking care of only what is necessary. What needs to be addressed now; what can wait for another time?  Determine a time when you will revisit the issue (next week, next month) then record the scheduled time in your calendar. Put it on an imaginary shelf for later if that helps.  If the issues bubbles up before that time, and it likely will,  say stop (because you’ve already done the fret-time) and distract yourself with other thoughts.
  • Let it go – Is this really important? Does it really matter? It’s interesting to notice just how much of what we worry about really should not be taking up real estate in our heads. Maybe you can learn to accept what is and give it up or let it go. Acceptance. Not easy, I know. Sometimes chronic worry becomes our constant companion. What would our lives improve if we didn’t worry so much?
  • Identify triggers –  Triggers are people, thoughts or situations that send anxiety sufferers into a very dark place. Making the choice to eliminate triggers as well as working through problems or dilemmas in a logical, productive way can reduce the impact of a particular trigger. Sometimes facing triggers or situations that cause us terror exposes us to the problem and eventually it becomes less problematic. We call this exposure therapy.
  • Find the funny - Whatever it takes, find a way to laugh.  Laughing discharges tension. In therapy, I often make this a treatment goal and suggest that my clients make time for play, fun and laughter.  Many adults have a tough time with this, so it’s important to help fun-deprived people explore any resistance to joy and relearn this long-forgotten aspect of their true nature.
  • Lifestyle and chemicals - Remove them (I’m mean, I know), but you will feel better if you reduce or eliminate coffee, alcohol, tobacco and sugar.  Many drink alcohol to relax and reduce anxiety, but is actually a depressant which leads to mood and anxiety problems or exacerbates existing problems.
  • Exercise regularly – The Mayo Clinic suggests exercising on most days of the weeks to improve health and emotional problems. Walking, dancing, yoga and tai chi are all good choices to support emotional health
  • Improve your diet – Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Proper nutrition and eating before your blood sugar tanks is key to warding off anxiety and potential related problems such as heart palpitations and hyperventilation. According to this article in Psychology Today, Omega 3 fatty acids may play a role in reducing anxiety, so power up the nutrition.
  • Learn to self-soothe – Read a good book, enjoy a hot bath, call a friend, dance, play a game, pet kitty or listen to music to help you manage your anxiety. Load your iPod and playlists with relaxing tunes for chill time.  A bookshelf favorite of mine, and I love to loan, is 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food  by Susan Albers, PsyD. This book is not just for individuals with eating disorders, and is packed with healthy, helpful actions that support positive self-esteem and increase control over many symptoms including difficulties with mood regulation and anxiety.
  • Aromatherapy – Essential oils have a molecular structure that makes it easy for them to enter the olfactory system, via the nose, which signals the limbic system to release important neurochemicals that affect mood and relaxation. Some helpful oils to support relaxation are lavender, orange, bergamot, frankincense, sandalwood, clary sage, vetiver and rose. A favorite book of mine AromaYoga by Tracy Griffiths and Ashley Turner is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in learning about essential oils and tips to enhance their yoga and wellness practice. Tracy is a pal, and she knows her oils well. I’m also a fan of Young Living Oils.
  • Get plenty of restful, restorative sleep – The effects of poor sleep quality and insomnia can compound over time interfering with coping abilities and increasing anxiety and premature aging. Learning sleep hygiene techniques might just change your life. As we age we make less melatonin. Investigate if this would be worth replacing and adding to your nighttime ritual of calm and good sleep hygiene. Talk to a trusted doctor who understands supplements.

There is an abundance of evidence that suggests that anxiety disorders run in families. Whether nature, nurture or some combination, left untreated, anxiety can worsen, leading to impaired daily functioning in many areas including: school, work, social, relationship problems, panic attacks, avoidance and even agoraphobia. People who suffer from an untreated anxiety disorder often tend to suffer from other psychological difficulties, such as depression, and they have a greater tendency to abuse alcohol and other drugs as a way to self-medicate. This becomes a solution to a problem, which can then become a habit and a bigger problem. Common signs of anxiety include:  restlessness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbances and changes in personality such as isolation. No need to suffer in silence.  Ask for help. As problems go, it’s pretty ordinary but can really disrupt your life.

Kimberly Seelbrede is a New York City PsychotherapistConsultantEMDR Therapist and Life Coach who specializes in an integrative approach to psychotherapy and coaching, working with adults, adolescents and couples. Kimberly is trained to collaborate with you in developing the insight, self-awareness and coping skills to address many concerns including: relationship, marital difficulties and interpersonal issues, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, obsessions, phobias, self-esteem, self-harm, ADD/ADHD, social difficulties, adolescent challenges, underachievement, perfectionism, identity and sexuality concerns, addictions, compulsions, PTSD, trauma, transitions, bereavement/loss, performance problems, life balance, stress reduction, self-care, women’s issues, purpose, spirituality, recovery support and meditation and mindfulness training. Kimberly specializes in working with high-profile, creative and talented individuals as well as issues unique to successful women. Please email to arrange a consultation in her Manhattan office or inquire about remote/distance sessions using Skype.

Kimberly completed her graduate studies at New York University and has advanced post-graduate psychotherapy certificates from New York University in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and has also received advanced EMDRIA approved EMDR training for trauma resolution as well as specialized training in BrainspottingCognitive-Behavioral Therapy CBTAcceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT,  Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT Therapy,  MindfulnessNon-Violent Communication (NVC) and studied Life Coaching with ILCT. In her work with couples, she applies the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy EFT and her relationship training from The Gottman Institute. If you’re a social media enthusiast, you can find Kim Seelbrede on TwitterFacebookLinkedin,Google+Instagram and  Pinterest

Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program Launches at Omega

Posted on July 3, 2012

(by Kim Seelbrede, originally posted on urbanzen.org)

Are you a yoga instructor looking for a deeper connection to your students as well as your personal practice?  Perhaps like many healthcare professionals, you feel challenged by the demands, both physical and emotional, of caregiving?  This 300-hour advanced training at Omega is a special opportunity for yoga teachers, nurses, doctors, and allied healthcare workers to experience cutting-edge medicine led by some of the nation’s leading instructors. I’m excited to share with you the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program, New York Masters Program, which I’ve been honored to participate in as a student, practitioner and mentor. Imagine a health-care system where the patient is treated, not just the disease. A system where complementary healing modalities such as yoga therapy, Reiki, essential oil therapy, nutrition, and contemplative care are integrated fluidly into mainstream medicine in a holistic approach to patient and self-care, creating a sustainable foundation for the health-care system.

In 2009, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation launched a new program designed to meet this holistic vision. The Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) New York Masters Program at Omega offers a 300-hour advanced training program focused on integrating complementary healing modalities into mainstream medical care. During this month long intensive, students are trained in four healing modalities: yoga therapy (in-bed movements, restorative poses, breathwork, and guided body scan meditation), Reiki, essential oil therapy, and contemplative care. Upon completion of the training, 2012 UZIT students are required to complete the traditional 100 hours of clinical rotation experience in order to be assessed and certified as a UZIT practitioner.

No longer a 12-month program, 2012 UZIT students can now take the UZIT Master Program in a four-week, in-residence training at Omega Institute of Rhinebeck, NY.  In this serene environment, nestled in Hudson Valley, UZIT students will be surrounded by nature in the Fall, at its most brilliant. Through innovative educational experiences that awaken the best in the human spirit, Omega provides hope and healing for individuals and society. Surrounded by woods and trails, the UZIT modalities are now shared in an environment that supports deep learning and mindfulness in a tranquil, natural setting. Featuring: Colleen Saidman Yee, Rodney Yee, Robert Chodo Campbell, Koshin Paley Ellison, Tracy Griffiths, Lena Falth, Susan Luck, Richard Freeman, Mary Taylor, Richard Rosen, Ed Dailey, Geoffrey Roniger. Teachers are subject to change. Requirements: Yoga professionals must be 200-hour registered yoga teachers and health-care professionals must have two years of yoga experience. All applicants must have training in first-responder CPR and first aid. Additionally, all applicants must name Urban Zen as insured. Graduates of this first level UZIT program are cleared to begin their 100-hour clinical rotations and final assessment with an UZIT instructor. Application required.

To learn more about the UZIT Master Program at Omega, please visit Omega Online, or use the links provided in this package. Important links to follow this groundbreaking healthcare movement, or to learn more or sign up: Urban Zen Foundation Omega Facebook Yoga Works

Kimberly Seelbrede is a New York City PsychotherapistConsultantEMDR Therapist and Life Coach who specializes in an integrative approach to psychotherapy and coaching, working with adults, adolescents and couples. Kimberly is trained to collaborate with you in developing the insight, self-awareness and coping skills to address many concerns including: relationship, marital difficulties and interpersonal issues, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, obsessions, phobias, self-esteem, self-harm, ADD/ADHD, social difficulties, adolescent challenges, underachievement, perfectionism, identity and sexuality concerns, addictions, compulsions, PTSD, trauma, transitions, bereavement/loss, performance problems, life balance, stress reduction, self-care, women’s issues, purpose, spirituality, recovery support and meditation and mindfulness training. Kimberly specializes in working with high-profile, creative and talented individuals as well as issues unique to successful women. Please email to arrange a consultation in her Manhattan office or inquire about remote/distance sessions using Skype.

Kimberly completed her graduate studies at New York University and has advanced post-graduate psychotherapy certificates from New York University in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and has also received advanced EMDRIA approved EMDR training for trauma resolution as well as specialized training in BrainspottingCognitive-Behavioral Therapy CBTAcceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT,  Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT Therapy,  MindfulnessNon-Violent Communication (NVC) and studied Life Coaching with ILCT. In her work with couples, she applies the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy EFT and her relationship training from The Gottman Institute. If you’re a social media enthusiast, you can find Kim Seelbrede on TwitterFacebookLinkedin,Google+Instagram and Pinterest

About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Posted on October 4, 2011

NY TherapyGaining helpful insight and self-awareness in psychotherapy does not always lead to change, therefore cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is a useful technique to add to client treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of treatment that involves evaluating the way a client thinks and feels from situation to situation, with the goal of helping him or her identify faulty thinking patterns that were learned earlier in life and have been sustained and reinforced over time. Cognitive behavioral therapy includes assignments, tasks and strategies designed to help the client re-evaluate his or her core beliefs and thought patterns, allowing for a more informed decision as to whether these beliefs are accurate.

Cognitive behavioral therapy also includes specific elements aimed at changing behavioral responses. CBT incorporates stress reduction techniques and goals and may include exercises involving relaxation, visualization and meditation/mindfulness. CBT therapy also provides concrete solutions for problem solving, time management and increased attention span and focus. CBT can be very helpful for clients who wish to lose weight, begin dating or change careers by helping them with time management skills, goal establishment and support for uncovering self-defeating habits and patterns that will interfere with progress.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is evidence-based and supported by a large body of research and is proven to be effective in treating a variety of emotional and behavioral difficulties. CBT may be integrated into other types of therapy such as short-term, crisis or psychodynamic psychotherapy for greater treatment success.

More about CBT:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (or cognitive behavioral therapies or CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that aims to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure. The title is used in diverse ways to designate behavior therapycognitive therapy, and to refer to therapy based upon a combination of basic behavioral and cognitive research.

There is empirical evidence that CBT is effective for the treatment of a variety of problems, including mood, anxiety, personality, eating, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders. Treatment is often manualized, with specific technique-driven brief, direct, and time-limited treatments for specific psychological disorders. CBT is used in individual therapy as well as group settings, and the techniques are often adapted for self-help applications. Some clinicians and researchers are more cognitive oriented (e.g. cognitive restructuring), while others are more behaviorally oriented (in vivo exposure therapy). Other interventions combine both (e.g. imaginal exposure therapy).

CBT was primarily developed through a merging of behavior therapy with cognitive therapy. While rooted in rather different theories, these two traditions found common ground in focusing on the “here and now”, and on alleviating symptoms. Many CBT treatment programs for specific disorders have been evaluated for efficacy and effectiveness; the health-care trend of evidence-based treatment, where specific treatments for symptom-based diagnoses are recommended, has favored CBT over other approaches such as psychodynamic treatments. In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends CBT as the treatment of choice for a number of mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorderOCDbulimia nervosa, and clinical depression, and for the neurological condition chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.

The particular therapeutic techniques vary within the different approaches of CBT according to the particular kind of problem issues, but commonly may include keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviors; questioning and testing cognitions, assumptions, evaluations and beliefs that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting. Relaxation, mindfulness and distraction techniques are also commonly included. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often also used in conjunction with mood stabilizing medications to treat conditions like bipolar disorder. Its application in treating schizophrenia along with medication and family therapy is recognized by the NICE guidelines (see below) within the British NHS.

Going through cognitive behavioral therapy generally is not an overnight process for clients. Even after clients have learned to recognize when and where their mental processes go awry, it can in some cases take considerable time or effort to replace a dysfunctional cognitive-affective-behavioral process or habit with a more reasonable and adaptive one. ~Wikipedia

Kimberly Seelbrede is a New York City PsychotherapistConsultantEMDR Therapist and Life Coach who specializes in an integrative approach to psychotherapy and coaching, working with adults, adolescents and couples. Kimberly is trained to collaborate with you in developing the insight, self-awareness and coping skills to address many concerns including: relationship, marital difficulties and interpersonal issues, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, obsessions, phobias, self-esteem, self-harm, ADD/ADHD, social difficulties, adolescent challenges, underachievement, perfectionism, identity and sexuality concerns, addictions, compulsions, PTSD, trauma, transitions, bereavement/loss, performance problems, life balance, stress reduction, self-care, women’s issues, purpose, spirituality, recovery support and meditation and mindfulness training. Kimberly specializes in working with high-profile, creative and talented individuals as well as issues unique to successful women. Please email to arrange a consultation in her Manhattan office or inquire about remote/distance sessions using Skype.

Kimberly completed her graduate studies at New York University and has advanced post-graduate psychotherapy certificates from New York University in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and has also received advanced EMDRIA approved EMDR training for trauma resolution as well as specialized training in BrainspottingCognitive-Behavioral Therapy CBTAcceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT,  Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT Therapy,  MindfulnessNon-Violent Communication (NVC) and studied Life Coaching with ILCT. In her work with couples, she applies the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy EFT and her relationship training from The Gottman Institute. If you’re a social media enthusiast, you can find Kim Seelbrede on TwitterFacebookLinkedin,Google+Instagram and  Pinterest

About Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Posted on October 4, 2011

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Psychodynamic psychotherapy, often called “psychoanalytic” or “dynamic” therapy is based on the premise that past experiences shape the present. According to the psychodynamic therapy model, the way in which an individual solves relationship issues early on can profoundly influence the formation of that individual’s adult personality.

At any early life stage, a person may have become “stuck” in a way of reacting or problem solving that is maladaptive in the present. As an adult, these same limiting patterns and dynamics often play out, getting repeated reflexively and automatically. These patterns interfere with the client’s ability to have healthy, intimate relationships with others as well as demonstrate resilience in the face of rejection. Unresolved development issues can prevent the individual from fully and spontaneously experiencing his or her true feelings which can lead to dissatisfaction in many areas of life such as relationships and career. Despite an individual’s mature exterior and successes in many areas of life, their rigid and repetitive patterns interfere with personal growth and the ability to lead passion-filled, happy lives. Psychodynamic, insight-oriented therapy seeks to make conscious many of these patterns of behaviors that have previously been out of awareness for clients.  There are many schools psychodynamic therapies including: relational analysis, self psychology and object relations therapy.

More about Psychodynamic psychotherapy: It is a form of depth psychology, the primary focus of which is to reveal the unconscious content of a client’s psyche in an effort to alleviate psychic tension. In this way, it is similar to psychoanalysis, but psychodynamic therapy tends to be briefer and less intensive than psychoanalysis. It also relies on the interpersonal relationship between client and therapist more than other forms of depth psychology. In terms of approach, this form of therapy also tends to be more eclectic than others, taking techniques from a variety of sources, rather than relying on a single system of intervention. It is a focus that has been used in individual psychotherapygroup psychotherapyfamily therapy, and to understand and work with institutional and organizational contexts.

Although psychodynamic psychotherapy can take many forms, commonalities include:

  • An emphasis on the centrality of intrapsychic and unconscious conflicts, and their relation to development.
  • Seeing defenses as developing in internal psychic structures in order to avoid unpleasant consequences of conflict.
  • A belief that psychopathology develops especially from early childhood experiences.
  • A view that internal representations of experiences are organized around interpersonal relations.
  • A conviction that life issues and dynamics will re-emerge in the context of the client-therapist relationship as transference and counter-transference.
  • Use of free association as a major method for exploration of internal conflicts and problems.
  • Focusing on interpretations of transference, defense mechanisms, and current symptoms and the working through of these present problems.
  • Trust in insight as critically important for success in therapy.

~Wikipedia

Latest Research in Psychotherapy:

The premier journal in psychology, The American Psychologist, published (February, 2010) an article by University of Colorado researcher Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D. that challenges prevailing thinking about psychotherapy by using multiple sophisticated meta-analyses of psychodynamic therapy and other psychological and pharmacological treatments.  In “The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy,” Shedler states ”Empirical evidence supports the efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Effect sizes for psychodynamic psychotherapy are as large as those reported for other therapies that have been actively promoted as “empirically supported” and “evidence based.” Additionally, patients who receive psychodynamic therapy maintain therapeutic gains and appear to continue to improve after treatment ends.” Here is a link to Shedler’s articles and website.

Kimberly Seelbrede is a New York City PsychotherapistConsultantEMDR Therapist and Life Coach who specializes in an integrative approach to psychotherapy and coaching, working with adults, adolescents and couples. Kimberly is trained to collaborate with you in developing the insight, self-awareness and coping skills to address many concerns including: relationship, marital difficulties and interpersonal issues, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, obsessions, phobias, self-esteem, self-harm, ADD/ADHD, social difficulties, adolescent challenges, underachievement, perfectionism, identity and sexuality concerns, addictions, compulsions, PTSD, trauma, transitions, bereavement/loss, performance problems, life balance, stress reduction, self-care, women’s issues, purpose, spirituality, recovery support and meditation and mindfulness training. Kimberly specializes in working with high-profile, creative and talented individuals as well as issues unique to successful women. Please email to arrange a consultation in her Manhattan office or inquire about remote/distance sessions using Skype.

Kimberly completed her graduate studies at New York University and has advanced post-graduate psychotherapy certificates from New York University in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and has also received advanced EMDRIA approved EMDR training for trauma resolution as well as specialized training in BrainspottingCognitive-Behavioral Therapy CBTAcceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT,  Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT Therapy,  MindfulnessNon-Violent Communication (NVC) and studied Life Coaching with ILCT. In her work with couples, she applies the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy EFT and her relationship training from The Gottman Institute. If you’re a social media enthusiast, you can find Kim Seelbrede on TwitterFacebookLinkedin,Google+Instagram and Pinterest

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