Finding Your Way Out of the Stress & Anxiety Trap
by Jennifer Komis, LMFT
Do you know that your body knows you are anxious before you are conscious of anxiety? Your body
reacts to stress triggers rapidly, creating a tightening in your chest, tension across your forehead, or
maybe a dry mouth or upset stomach. Because the mind and body are inextricably linked like this,
therapists can treat anxiety and stress in multiple ways: we can provide interventions to help calm the
mind AND we can collaborate with you to help calm the body. This is good news, as you have MANY
options of treatment that can help you find your way out of the stress and anxiety trap!
If you prefer to examine how your thoughts impact your behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy may be
a good fit for you. If you like the idea of slowing down your mind, learning to watch your thoughts and
observe your body’s sensations, a mindfulness approach may be most helpful. If identifying the inner
parts of yourself that feel anxious and working to calm them sounds appealing, internal family systems
could be just your thing. And if learning breathing techniques and physical relaxation exercises floats
your boat, therapy that focuses first on the body could be perfect for you.
At the Louisville Mindfulness Center, we are well-versed in all these approaches to treating stress and
anxiety. We consider it a privilege to get to know you personally and determine which approach (or
approaches) feels like the right fit for you. In this blog series, we’ll give you a preview of these
techniques and show you how to alleviate anxiety through each approach. Today’s focus? The cognitive
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT helps you uncover the core thoughts leading you to feel anxious and helps you become aware of
how those thoughts may be driving your actions. Check out an example:
Stressful event: I got frustrated and raised my voice to my child today.
What are the resulting thoughts that maintain my stress or anxiety? (e.g., I’m not a good mom.)
What feelings do these thoughts lead me to have? (e.g., sadness, hopelessness, apathy)
What behaviors do these thoughts lead me to do? (e.g., give up on tasks, crash on couch, avoid
CBT offers hope because it reminds us that if you change your thoughts, you change your actions! So, in
therapy, we work on reframing the core thoughts that are keeping you stuck and replacing them with
thoughts that bring you more freedom and the actions you desire. For example:
Old thought: I’m not a good mom.
New thought: I’m normal because most (if not all) parents struggle with frustration with their
children. I shouldn’t beat myself up. I also did a lot of things well today as a parent.
New feelings: accepted, calm, motivated
New behaviors: takes a break for self-care and reflection, calls friend to process stress, moves on
with the day’s tasks
Your turn! What’s a reoccurring thought that may be keeping you stuck? Can you challenge it? Think
about it another way? Give it a try and see how changing your thoughts can cause a positive ripple effect
throughout your day. Then, check out our next newsletter where we’ll discuss another tool for your
toolbox: the mindfulness approach to finding your way out of the stress and anxiety trap!
Jennifer Komis, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist who helps you learn new ways of solving problems and healing. She wants you to know that hope is always available to you, however dismal life may seem. My clients describe me as authentic, down-to-earth, non-judgmental, and real.
She is currently only offering teletherapy services. Teletherapy allows us to meet conveniently face-to-face online without you needing to worry about traffic or childcare. Telehealth therapy is shown to be an effective way to address the vast majority of psychological and relational concerns. I welcome you to email me any questions you have or sign up for a free phone consultation or first telehealth session using the links.