7 Top Therapists Share Their Tips to Reduce Anxiety (2018)

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We’re all going through something. Stop, Breathe & Think’s (“SBT”)  personalized wellness platform is designed to help people feel strong, connected and inspired through life’s ups and downs. SBT’s unique approach prompts users to check-in with their emotions and recommends short meditations and mindful activities tuned to how they feel.

With over 10 million emotional check-ins, we’ve consistently seen that the number one emotion selected worldwide is anxiety. We’ve heard from many SBT users that regularly using the app has helped them work with anxious feelings. We wanted to understand just how much SBT impacted a users’ experience of anxiety, and recently conducted a  study on 10,000 of our app users over 13 months. Our research shows that after 100 short sessions with SBT (average 5 min), users’ self reported feelings of anxiety was decreased by 46%.

As part of our ongoing commitment to provide the most accessible and effective tools to address the rise of anxiety, we asked some of the top therapists in the world to share their thoughts about meditation, mindfulness apps and their best tips to deal with this emotional health issue that affects so many of us.


Top actionable tips to reduce anxiety:


Dr. Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi, PhD in Psychology: “After each task you accomplish successfully, spend a few seconds recognizing it and patting your back metaphorically for a job well done. It can be something as simple as what you tell yourself when looking at the mirror after brushing your teeth with vigor and élan.”

 
 
 

Dr Lisa Firestone, PhD in Professional Psychology:“4-7-8 Breathing” which is literally what it is—you breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and then breathe out for a count of 8. If you do this five times in a row, it actually releases serotonin in your brain (a neurochemical that makes you feel calmer). Another breathing exercise from our “Making Sense of Your Life” toolkit, where you put one hand over your chest and the other over your belly and take a number of deep breaths, will also calm you down and bring you back centered to yourself.”


Dr. Michael Picucci, PhD in Humanistic Psychology:

“I teach simple body awareness mindfulness techniques along with how the mind creates anxiety. I demonstrate to [clients] and allow them to notice how befriending ‘Head Noise’ is an antidote to anxiety and depression.”

 
 

Dr. Richard Schwartz, PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy:“Focus on the anxious part of you, find it in your body, become curious about it, ask it what it wants you to know, learn where it’s stuck in the past, go to it and comfort it with compassion, bring it out of the past, help it release the anxiety.”

 
 
 

Dr. Ann Weiser Cornell, Author of The Power of Focusing: “1) Pause, breathe, bring awareness to your body. 2) Acknowledge how you feel. 3) Say “something in me feels _____” in order to give space to your feelings.”

 
 
 
 

Dr. Michael Yapko, PhD in Professional Psychology:

“1) Learn how to recognize and tolerate ambiguity without projecting fear and disaster onto ambiguous situations. 2) Push yourself to answer your scary “What if?” questions (e.g., what if I lose my job?), so you can move them from unpleasant and unmanageable to unpleasant but manageable. 3) Learn how to assess risk realistically (anxious people typically overestimate risks) and how to recognize and use your own resources (anxious people typically underestimate their own resources.) 4) Recognize when to accept some anxiety as “the price tag for planning. 5) Learn to self-soothe in positive ways.”


Dr. Philip Zimbardo, PhD in Psychology:

“Be more socio-centric and less egocentric. For example, focus on others, ask if they need help, and give compliments.”

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to managing anxiety. “Each person needs to find her or his own combination of methods that work.” says Dr. Weiser Cornell “If someone finds [that a meditation app] does reduce anxiety, then I’m all for it!”  

We designed the Stop, Breathe & Think app to be a flexible tool that meets different needs, and provide a variety of activities that have been proven to help alleviate anxiety, like breathing exercises, yoga, and mindfulness meditation. Dr. Picucci supports combining mindfulness and meditation techniques to create “quick, simple exercises that can become life long skills” and believes that mindfulness apps are especially useful in helping clients develop those skills.

In addition to the results of our own research, anecdotal evidence suggests that meditation apps can be effective. Dr. Lisa Firestone has seen meditation delivered through an app work over and over to reduce anxiety, and often recommends mediation apps because they are a easy way to get started. Further, according to Dr. Philip Zimbardo, “Any convenient technology that reminds people to press the pause button, refocus away from negatives and toward positives, is valuable for everyone. Meditation is one effective way to take time out of local stress and self-worry, to enjoy the quiet inner you.”


Thanks again to these seven thought leaders for sharing their expertise with SBT. Want to give us a try? Download our app here!