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Mindfulness Therapy Can Help With Anxiety Disorders

Mindfulness – The Secret To Being Happier Throughout Your Day

Most people go through their lives in reaction-mode. They respond to something that happens in their environment – a conversation, a changing traffic light, the boss calling a meeting – but they often aren’t truly aware of the world around them. They can be so focused on the distractions of life that they aren’t actually experiencing life.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “be more mindful” or “be present in your day,” but do you know what that really means? Is it simply paying attention to your surroundings or is there some deeper concept to be explored? Are there benefits to being mindful?

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Children and the Benefits of Mindfulness Training

 

These days, children often have stressors that come at them from all directions. Schools are sending more homework and projects home with children, kids are busy after school with extra-curricular sports and activities, and there are video games, social media, and cell phones all competing for their attention. In addition, they may have to deal with being picked on at school or may be coping with the pressures of divorcing parents or the arrival of a new sibling in the home. With all that kids have to contend with, it’s no wonder that children who engage in mindfulness exercises tend to be happier kids who are more able to self-regulate and calm themselves during periods of stress.

What is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness, anyway? According to experts in the field, mindfulness is defined as “paying attention to something, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).

Mindfulness helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus. It allows children to choose a calmer, practiced response to stressors instead of throwing a tantrum or losing control. It teaches them to be conscious of how their emotions “show up” in their bodies (in the form of headaches, stomachaches, nightmares etc), and helps them understand that their thoughts are “just thoughts.” Children who undergo mindfulness training become adept at recognizing when their attention has wandered and learn to implement tools for impulse control.

How Can Mindfulness Training Help Your Child?

There is a growing body of research that indicates mindfulness training can help children improve their ability to calm down when they are stressed or upset, learn to pay attention and become more focused, increase their ability to concentrate, and learn to make better decisions.

Mindfulness activities for children can also help with:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Anger issues and separation anxiety
  • Coping with increased life stressors
  • Anxiety at school (for example: test taking or athletic performance)
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Learning compassion and acceptance for themselves and others
  • Breaking the cycle of worry before it turns into full-blown anxiety or panic attacks

Mindfulness Activities for Children

If you would like to help your children learn to become more mindful, there are a few things to take into account when teaching them. First, remember to take the age of the child into consideration and keep the mindfulness sessions short until they get used to practicing it. Also, make the practice times age appropriate – limit them to about five minutes or less, particularly for younger children. Praise your child for the effort they put into their mindfulness exercises and reward them with hugs and cuddles or by doing something they want to do together afterward.

Try these exercises to help your child practice being more mindful:

  • Belly breathing – Have your child put one hand on their tummy and one hand on their heart. Have them take a deep breath in for a slow count of 3 and then breathe out again to another slow count of 3. They should repeat this deep breathing exercise at least three to five times to feel calmer in times of stress. For younger children, it can be helpful to have them lie down and place a small stuffed animal on their stomach while breathing in and out during the exercise. As they focus on watching the stuffed animal rise and fall with their breathing, they learn how to breathe from their belly.
  • “Cool Your Food” breathing – Have your child breathe in through their nose and blow their breath out of their mouth as if they were trying to cool down hot food. Repeat this 5-10 times, very slowly.
  • Listen to the sounds around you – An easy way for children to practice mindfulness is to focus on paying attention to what they can hear. Take a walk and listen to the birds chirping, lawn mowers mowing, or the wind blowing. You can also download phone apps that have calming waterfalls or nature sounds and have your child listen to see what they can hear (for example: are there frogs croaking or birds chirping in the background?)
  • Mindful Playtime – Finger paints or coloring books offer great ways for children to be mindful. As they color, ask your child how the crayons smell or how the finger paint feels against their hands. What do the colors they are using mean to them? Can they hear the crayon or pencil scratching against the paper or the paint swishing as they swirl it across the paper?
  • Ring a bell – or chimes or perhaps strike a note on a piano (or use a phone app that has these sounds on it) and have your child listen carefully to the sound of the tone until it gradually fades away and stops.
  • Practice gratitude – Have your child tell you one or two things they were grateful for today. You can have them do this at dinner time or just before they go to bed. Tell them what you are grateful for, as well!

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We have mindfulness programs for both adults and children at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. To find out more about these programs, call us at 561-496-1094 or email The Center today.

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Mindfulness Training for Stress Reduction

Whether we struggle with mental health, physical health, or stress in our everyday lives, we often find that we get “caught up” in our struggles and have a difficult time focusing our time or energy elsewhere. We may even try to ignore these stressors, only to feel even more frustrated when our attention shifts back [...]
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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Overcoming Chronic Anxiety

Have you ever had to make a difficult decision, taken a test, or been faced with a challenging situation? If so, chances are you’ve experienced stress or anxiety symptoms, even if it was just for a brief period of time. The truth is that most of us have experienced something stressful at one point or another but only a handful of us are so impacted by that stress that it turns into a pattern of chronic anxiety and becomes a detriment to our normal lives. When the amount of stress you’re experiencing moves beyond your ability to cope with it, you may suffer from physical or emotional anxiety symptoms, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Frequent illness or accidents
  • High blood pressure
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease

If you’ve found yourself experiencing chronic anxiety at this level it might be beneficial to speak with your doctor about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Similar to cognitive behavior therapy, this program is typically taught in a structured 8-week curriculum, and has been adapted from Buddhist principles which encourage you to use mindfulness exercises to focus on anxiety symptoms and sensations so you can learn how to stop reacting to them.

At the end of the day, anxiety is simply your response to a particular stimulus and anxiety symptoms are the physical response to the stimulus. When stress occurs on a regular basis and produces chronic anxiety it’s because you’ve fallen into a habit of responding in a particular way to that specific stimulus. However, in all cases, there is a moment of choice between a stressful event and our individual reaction to it. Mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a way of consciously and systematically eliminating your negative reaction to make your anxiety disappear.

People who have participated in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction courses often find themselves experiencing greater overall happiness. Other benefits can include:

  • Lasting decreases in physical and psychological anxiety symptoms
  • Increased clarity and balance
  • Ability to cope with stressful situations without falling back into chronic anxiety patterns
  • A deeper understanding of how your thoughts and emotions interact
  • A more refined sensory awareness
  • Decreased suffering from physical and mental difficulties
  • A heightened appreciation of life

We all have to deal with stress and anxiety at some point. But imagine if you could understand how to control that stress and wipe it away when it rears its ugly head. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction can help you do just that.

In Getting to Know Anxiety Drs. Rosen and Gross offer readers an overview of today’s challenging mental health issues and the most current treatment methods available, as well as practical strategies for mental and emotional self-care.

If you or someone you know could benefit from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or other anxiety therapy, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Mindfulness Therapy Can Help With Anxiety Disorders

Mindfulness Therapy Can Help With Anxiety Disorders

In today’s stress-ridden world, more than 19 million Americans are affected by anxiety disorders. The tension they feel at work, during tests, or in social situations has become irrational and excessive to the point that anxiety disables them in their everyday lives. For most, anxiety disorder introduces an overwhelming loss of control over their thoughts and emotions.

There are several possible treatments for anxiety disorder, but one that is gaining popularity is the concept of mindfulness therapy. Mindfulness, with its roots in Buddhist philosophy, encourages a complete commitment to the present moment.

In the majority of cases, anxiety disorder develops as a result of a past incident. For example, if a person was bitten by a dog as a child, they may become anxious around dogs or animals of all kinds. Through mindfulness therapy, however, that person learns to stop using that past experience to inform their present.

There are seven important elements of the mindfulness attitude:

  • Non-judging – Becoming an impartial observer without making a positive or negative evaluation of what is happening.
  • Patience – Cultivating the understanding that everything must develop in its own time.
  • Beginner’s Mind –The willingness to observe the world with an open mind – as if it were your first time doing so.
  • Trust – Having trust in yourself, your intuition, and your abilities.
  • Non-Striving – The state of not doing anything toward a particular purpose. This can be especially difficult for people in Western cultures, as it requires accepting that things happen in the moment just as they are supposed to.
  • Acceptance – Acknowledging the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and beliefs you have and understanding that they are those things only; they can’t affect your immediate experience without your permission.
  • Non-Attachment – Refusing to attach meaning to thoughts and emotions. Instead, let feelings or thoughts come and go without connecting them to anything.

It can take time to develop a true mindfulness attitude but the reward is that you will have more control over your own life. For the people who suffer from anxiety disorder, this can mean a dramatic change in their everyday lives.

In Getting to Know Anxiety Drs. Rosen and Gross offer readers an overview of today’s challenging mental health issues and the most current treatment methods available, as well as practical strategies for mental and emotional self-care.

For more information about mindfulness therapy in Boca Raton, Florida, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and the anxiety disorder specialists at the Center For Treatment of Anxiety Disorders at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

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masked man with image of coronavirus in the background

Managing Pandemic Anger And Frustration

Earlier this year, we got a taste of our prepandemic lives when vaccines became available and Covid-19 cases decreased. People began to gather for social events again, we went back to our favorite restaurants, and travel resumed. Then the Delta variant emerged, and with it a lot of anger – mainly directed at those who are refusing vaccination.

As Delta continues to spread and there is news of the Delta-Plus and Lambda variants, we are facing the reimplementation of mask requirements and the possibility of closures and more interruptions to our lives. It’s no wonder people are angry and frustrated!

The Delta Variant And Pandemic Frustration (Why Do I Have So Much Anger All Of A Sudden?)

As we have transitioned through the pandemic, we’ve all had to quickly adapt to the almost-weekly changes the virus has laid at our feet. Many of us were already struggling with mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) or anxiety, before we ever heard of Covid-19. In the last year and a half, mental health concerns have continued to rise as we’ve gone through shut downs, job loss, illness in ourselves or loved ones, and more deaths than we thought possible in such a short time.

As a result, we now feel exceedingly unsafe   – both in our daily lives and as we look forward into the coming months. Will we be able to be with loved ones during the holidays? Will we be able to work? To travel? To go into a store without worrying about catching a variant?

Unfortunately, the news media and social media have stoked our insecurities by sensationalizing information. Misinformation, confusion, and conspiracy theories have overtaken logic and science.

We’ve had so much waffling from experts about the correct procedures to keep us safe that it’s no wonder many people have given up trusting news reports. For example, at first the CDC said we didn’t need to wear masks, then everyone from two years and up was required to wear one. This spring, the CDC announced that we could drop mask wearing if we got vaccinated, now everyone is being told to wear a mask despite their vaccine status.

This back-and-forth has added to our frustration. One recent study by Serafini, et al reports that, “the poor or inadequate information from public health authorities may be a significant stressor because it provides inappropriate guidelines concerning call for actions…”

Is Pandemic Anger A Recognized Condition Now?

While not necessarily an “official” condition, pandemic anger is being recognized by mental health professionals the world over. There is even an unofficial term for it, patterned after a candy bar commercial: pandemic + angry = “pangry.”

Being pangry is understandable. Recently, we had restrictions lifted and “normal” life dangled in front of us by the CDC’s dropping of mask requirements and the promise of the new vaccines. Thus, we dared to hope we could put the pandemic behind us, but now emerging virus variants are changing that once again.

Officials are increasingly laying blame for rising cases at the feet of the unvaccinated. For the vaccinated who “did their part” by taking the jabs, resentment is building against those whom they feel aren’t doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.

Conversely, some of the unvaccinated don’t see the need to get the vaccine because they have acquired natural antibodies through their own Covid illness. Others may not trust what they are being told about the safety of the new type of vaccine and its mRNA delivery.

While this mistrust and confusion is understandable, many vaccinated folks are making decisions to stop seeing friends or loved one who aren’t complying with vaccination pleas, while the unvaccinated feel their rights are being trampled upon.

Dr. Hans Steiger, Professor Emeritus of Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, states that, “The COVID situation does present us with unprecedented challenges which interfere unrelentingly with all our lives. Social isolation may be the best tool to keep the virus under control, but this clashes directly with the need for social interventions helping us resolve anger and rage when being at the mercy of injustice and uncertainty. In such conflicts we need to remind ourselves that diatribes, lies and accusations will not move us forward; compassion empathy and the reminder that we are all in this horrible situation together will inspire us. Because in the end all of us can contribute to finding solutions to the problem.”

What Can I Do To Feel Better If I’m Feeling Anxious And Scared About COVID-19?

There are several things you can do to help reduce your anger and fear about the ongoing pandemic:

  • Don’t let social media make your decisions for you. Social media comes to us filtered through the agenda of the person who posted it, so limit your exposure.
  • Don’t let politics or partisanship influence your emotions too much. They will counteract logic instead of helping us see our needs clearly.
  • Be kind in your judgments of others and their reasons for choosing to get vaccinated or not. You do not know their story. Perhaps they have a medical complication that precludes vaccination. Perhaps they saw or lost ill loved ones, making them adamantly pro-vaccines.
  • Eat nutritious foods and get the best quality sleep you can.
  • Begin or strengthen a meditation or mindfulness practice. These calming techniques help you become more resilient, which allows you to face your stressors more positively.
  • Focus on finding balance in your life, through such activities and getting outside in nature, getting regular exercise, indulging in a favorite hobby or starting a new one.
  • Maintain some social interaction either virtually or through safely distanced, masked in-person contact. Being with others is vitally important; isolation breeds depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

We Can Help

If you are experiencing emotional and mental health challenges during the pandemic or afterwards, our licensed therapists are available to help with your needs. We offer in-person sessions as well as video sessions. All conversations remain confidential under strict non-disclosure policies so that we can maintain absolute privacy while offering effective solutions.

For more information, contact the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email The Center today.

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woman wearing face mask

What We Have Learned From 2021

No one can deny that 2021 has been a momentous year. It has had a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly for sure. It has at times been frightening, confusing, comforting and educational. We have witnessed a very unusual presidential election, a subsequent denial by some of the validity of the election and an unheard of polarization of our peers and lawmakers. Most critically, we have endured a gift that keeps on giving; the novel coronavirus that has killed countless people world-wide and more fellow Americans than we would have ever anticipated. We have had to learn the meaning of the word epidemiology as it relates to health and wellness. Unfortunately, we now know explicitly what a spike protein is and looks like. More than ever before we have been influenced (for good and bad) by the internet and social media. Although we have been witness to conspiracy theories in the past, but this year has certainly been a boon time for them.

So it is important for us to sit back and take stock of the emotional and psychological impact of these events. A major fallout has been the confusion over what is fact and what is fiction. We have seen the major news networks disagreeing on many important issues. Who to believe? Proponents of networks that broadcast their unique take on the news may be diametrically opposite of the proponents of the “other” networks. To avoid getting into trouble I will leave the network names blank, but I am sure you know what I am talking about. There was a time in the 1950s and 1960s when veteran newscasters like Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, Douglas Edwards educated us nightly on national and world events. Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” conveyed the power and influence of the media. Somewhere during the subsequent decades all this has changed. It became apparent to television and radio that communicating news is basically a form of entertainment. Like most popular entertainment venues it becomes essential to be able to sell the programs to the masses. Media outlets have always been for profit businesses (exceptions being Public Radio and Public Television) but it seems that profitability became linked to the entertainment value of their shows. Newscasters and news commentators became the entertainers that we see today. Walter Cronkite would not succeed as a newscaster in 2021.

Along comes the world wide web and internet bringing to us the 24/7 experience of social media. Humanity has not been the same since. Due to the openness of social media to anyone with internet access, a huge amount of content has appeared on the screens and podcasts of this world. An interesting paradox has developed. Most social media participants should realize that what they see and hear reflects subjective information. However, at the same time, we are witnessing the tremendous influence of social media on the minds of attendees. It is as if misinformation has become the norm. Conspiracy theories have had a heyday. Part of the problem is that human beings have a strong tendency to be voyeurs. They like to be entertained. We are drawn to the unusual, fantastic and bizarre. Hence the success of reality TV no matter how strange or sensationalistic it can be. Consider the popularity of horror movies going back to the days of black and white silent films. It does appear that what we have been witnessing is the natural evolution of multimedia fueled by both the profit motive and the change in its audience. 

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Brittany Schulman, Psy.D

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Brittany Schulman is a licensed clinical psychologist who provides assessment and therapy services to children, adolescents, and adults. Although she specializes in providing evaluations for individuals presenting with an array of concerns, she has a keen interest in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. During her clinical training, she completed a rotation providing therapy [...]
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Mary-Kate Barnes, PH.D. Copy

Postdoctoral Resident Dr. Mary-Kate Barnes is a postdoctoral resident who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, relationship difficulties, stress, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and health concerns in children, adolescents and adults. She utilizes a warm, empathetic approach, and values a strong therapeutic alliance. Dr. Barnes strives to create a safe, supportive environment [...]
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