6 Key Tools for Managing Anxiety


The holidays are about being with friends and family. But this time of year can also be busy, stressful, and anxiety-inducing. Small things like the weather, traffic, gifts, and dinner parties, along with larger factors like relationships, politics, and expectations, can all contribute to these overwhelming feelings of anxiety.

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that manifests in a variety of different levels. It becomes a disorder when the feelings of worry or fear are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. There are more than three million cases of anxiety disorder per year in the US, and the symptoms and treatment are different for everyone.

The good news: there are some basic skills we can learn to control it. Below are just a few.


According to Psych Central, anxiety often stems from thought holes, which are easy to get yourself into and difficult to dig yourself out of. Studies show self-defeating thoughts (i.e., “I’m a loser”) can trigger self-defeating emotions (i.e., pain, anxiety, malaise) that, in turn, cause self-defeating actions (i.e., acting out, skipping work). Left unchecked, this tendency can lead to more severe conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Psychologist Aaron Beck, often referred to as the father of cognitive therapy, uncovered several common thought holes as seen below.

  1. Jumping to conclusions: judging a situation based on assumptions as opposed to definitive facts
  2. Mental filtering: paying attention to the negative details in a situation while ignoring the positive
  3. Magnifying: magnifying negative aspects in a situation
  4. Minimizing: minimizing positive aspects in a situation
  5. Personalizing: assuming the blame for problems even when you are not primarily responsible
  6. Externalizing: pushing the blame for problems onto others even when you are primarily responsible
  7. Overgeneralizing: concluding that one bad incident will lead to a repeated pattern of defeat
  8. Emotional reasoning: assuming your negative emotions translate into reality or confusing feelings with facts


Now that you’ve identified your thought patterns, know that you are not having a heart attack. You’re not going crazy, either. The fact that you’re able to question whether or not you’re going crazy means that you aren’t. People who have lost touch with reality lack insight and don’t have the ability to question or worry about their mental state.

Anxiety feeds off itself until, after awhile, you get anxious about being anxious. The more you struggle against it, the more it will stay. The more you can accept your anxiety, the quicker your anxiety will fade.


We hear this all the time, but it really does work. Take these simple recommendations from Hey Sigmund to begin:

  1. Sit quietly. Breathe in through your nose to the count of three, ‘In, two, three.’ Breathe out through your nose to the count of three, ‘Relax, two, three.’ Repeat until your breathing is under control.
  2. Make yourself aware of your breathing. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Breathe in so that your stomach rises. Hold your breath briefly. Breathe out slowly, thinking ‘relax’ and feeling your stomach fall. Try to make sure that the hand on your chest doesn’t move very much. Repeat 5 to 10 times, concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly. Practice in advance – even on the good days – so you’ll have it when you need it.
  3. Try to slow your breathing down. Do this by taking a short pause between when you breathe out and when you breathe in.


Believe it or not, relaxation takes practice. Start with progressively relaxing tensing and relaxing the muscles from your toes to your head. Start with your toes – tense for a couple of seconds, then relax. Then, move to your feet – tense, relax. Then work your way up to your head.


Meditation takes years for people to master–if they ever do. But the positive benefits of basic mindfulness techniques have been proven over and over again. It’s a powerful way to elicit the relaxation response and involves observing or noticing what’s happening now, in each unfolding moment, without judgment. You’ll find some great pointers on Hey Sigmund.


Research has shown that getting active five times a week, even if it’s for just five minutes, makes people less anxious, stressed, and depressed. If you’re not the type to get sweaty at the gym, a 20-30 minute brisk walk works just as well. In fact, it has the same effect on the brain as antidepressants.

Anxiety can be scary–especially during the holidays–but there are ways to manage it. Feel free to contact Alison Sorenson for more information.

How Self-Talk Influences Your Life


Whether we know it or not, we’re consistently having an internal dialog about ourselves to ourselves throughout each day. This can be constructive, but it can also be very destructive. Can you imagine the effect that predominantly negative self-talk can have on an individual over time?

Self-talk influences us both mentally and physically. The good news is, once we become aware of the thoughts that are running through our heads, we have the power to change them–and in turn, make some big changes in our lives.

Physical Influence

Positive self-talk requires more than just looking in a mirror and saying nice things to your reflection. In an interview with NPR, David Sarwer, psychologist and clinical director at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania, says the goal is to remove “negative and pejorative terms” from the patient’s self-talk.

For example, instead of saying “My abdomen is disgusting and grotesque,” you could say ‘’My abdomen is round, my abdomen is big; it’s bigger than I’d like it to be.” The underlying notion is that it’s not enough for a patient to lose physical weight — or gain it, as some women need to — if she doesn’t also change the way her body looks in her mind’s eye.

The shift in thinking positively about your body image doesn’t simply happen after you go from a size 8 to a size 4. In a 2013 study, scientists watched women with anorexia walk through doorways in a lab. The women, they noticed, turned their shoulders and squeezed sideways, even when they had plenty of room. In their minds, the women thought they were physically much larger than they actually were. Although we may not realize it, our internal representation of ourselves affects our deeper physical habits.

Mental Influence

You’ve probably heard the phrase saying is believing. And to an extent, this is true. In a Psychology Today article, Amy Morin writes, “Developing a productive inner dialogue is one of the most productive ways mentally strong people keep building their mental muscle, and repeating positive, yet realistic affirmations can drown out the negative thoughts that can hold you back.” This is easy enough when life is going well, but it becomes extra important when you’re facing hardship. Morin includes the following nine mantras you can use to stay mentally strong:

  1. I have what I need to get through this.
  2. Living according to my values is what really matters.
  3. Failure is part of the road to success.
  4. All I can do is my best.
  5. Five years from now this won’t matter as much as I think it will.
  6. I’m stronger than I think.
  7. I can handle feeling uncomfortable.
  8. I am in control of how I think, feel, and behave.
  9. I’ve been knocked down before and I can get back up again.

Positive mantras like these can help you lead a healthier life and inspire you to behave more productively, which is key to getting through tough times.

We can always do more to spread positivity. But many of us don’t realize that the positivity starts with us, and our own self-talk. So try it out! And if you want some help getting started, feel free to contact me at (541) 610-9500.

Workplace Counseling

We specialize in workplace counseling and organizational effectiveness with a goal of helping employees and companies evolve to create more positive work environments and greater work satisfaction.

There is an unconscious web of relationships which people form in workplace environments. These relationships can intertwine with past, current, and expected future life experiencesWork Friendships, leading to confusion or even disabling stress or anxiety. To better understand how to manage work relationships, it is ideal to focus on how work fits into one’s life. Work counseling extends beyond the concept of employment “guidance” to encompass the whole person both at work and away.

In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in compensation claims for work-related stress, and there are many possible contributing factors:

  • Coworkers
  • Company culture
  • Self-employment
  • Supervisor/boss relationships
  • Administration
  • Job description or requirements
  • Benefits (or lack thereof)
  • Customers or clients
  • Extraneous factors, such as the economy or the nature of different industries

Whether personally seeking counseling to improve your work-related stress, or seeking a benefit to offer employees of your business or company, confidential workplace counseling directly addresses the top factors (anxiety and depression) that reduce employee satisfaction and how a company functions. Below are a few of the benefits both employees and employers can gain from workplace counseling:

For Employees:

  • Improve work productivity
  • Increase job fulfillment
  • Gain skills to improve workplace relationships
For Employers:
  • Increase employee retention
  • Increase work productivity
  • Improve internal culture, and employee, administration and management relations