How To Cope With Anxiety In Simple & Natural Ways

by | Inspiring Interviews

Learn strategies that Gail Weissert, a licensed psychotherapist on the Eastern Shore of MD (in practice for over 30 years), recommends on a daily basis to her clients who come to her office looking for peace from anxious feelings. Her advice utilizes natural, simple and actionable strategies that you can start to implement day by day.

The list of resources are below the video and the full transcript is also below the video.

If you would like to speak with Gail personally, please contact her here.

Here are the links to all those resources we talked about:


Today, I want to talk about a topic that I find seems to be a common thread no matter what age you are…and that is anxiety.

This is a topic that’s actually quite near and dear to my heart because I’ve had periods in my life where I’ve felt extreme anxiety and I can definitely tell you it’s crippling. I’ve been implementing my own strategies to help overcome fear and anxiety before it perpetuates into something even more terrible, but I wanted to bring an expert on the show so that we could discuss this a little bit more in depth.

So I want to welcome Gail Weissert.

Lindsey: Thank you.

Gail: Hi, thank you, happy to be here.

So as you guys might be able to tell, this is my mother. She is a licensed therapist who has also been in practice for over 30 years and has talked with a lot of people over the years about this common word ‘anxiety’.

We were having a conversation about a week back and I was asking, “What are the major reasons why people come to your office? What are the themes you see?” and she said, “Anxiety was one of them.”

So before we go any further I just want to make sure we identify exactly what the word ‘Anxiety’ means.

Gail: Well, I think anxiety stems from fear and it’s actually a physiological state in the body in which certain parts of our nervous system are activated, called the sympathetic nervous system. We’re all animals of course, and as we all know, fight/flight is a major defense mechanism because we were intended to defend ourselves against nature.

Lindsey: Right.

Gail: So, that’s a part of that. Only I say ‘fight/flight on steroids’ because you’re not just feeling it for a short period of time, you might feel it for a long period of time and it might actually cause symptoms that make you feel terrible.

Lindsey: Okay and so some symptoms that people are feeling, what are they?

Gail: Well at its most extreme, people will experience panic attacks or they could pass out or something like that. Sometimes they end up in the emergency room with what they think is a heart attack and it was actually a result of anxiety.

Lindsey: Because of that feeling of your heart beating quickly?

Gail: Sometimes, it is described as a tightness in the pit of their stomach or in their chest. They’ll express to me that their… their thoughts are racing all the time, that they can’t slow down. One lady described it to me as, ‘blender brain’.

Lindsey: Blender brain, okay.

Gail: which meant that her thoughts kept going and going and going. Sometimes, therefore it disturbs their sleep and in fact, I think that the brain is really over thinking to try and solve the problem of daily life and this over thinking too much too long actually can lead to depression. So it can be very serious and people lose work from anxiety. People have difficulty in relationships with anxiety and it goes on and on.

Lindsey: I’m hearing this word a lot with people that I talk with, friends my age, younger people. It just seems to be this common thing. Everybody’s like, “I had a big meeting and I was just feeling that my heart was racing and that my mind is always constantly going.”

I feel like this is coming up more and more and more. So what is it, is it? Is it our modern-day lifestyle?

Gail: I think the modern lifestyle is very contributory. From a young age, we are given the message that we should achieve everything. Life is all about ‘do, do, do, run, run, run, go, go, go, achieve, achieve, achieve’. I see young high school girls with this, as young as 12. Sometimes even the sports they compete in. They’re pushed to be perfect, and be better, and be smarter, and wiser.

And then at the same time from the other end, there are broadcasts coming from the media in every direction from television to the Internet to YouTube to whatever source of media you have that tends to promote fear, and therefore the anxiety response kicks in.

And finally, certainly, in school, or in the workplace, there’s a lot of pressure. People are maybe doing the jobs of three people for example. I’ve seen that because of downsizing and outsourcing and then we have fewer workers to do the same jobs with the same pressure.

So it’s a push all the time. We may have too many emails, too many phone calls, simply too much to do and our brain gets overloaded from too much stimulation and too many directions.

Lindsey: ‘This is a great segue into talking about some coping strategies because if we constantly have the pressures of all this stuff coming at us, I feel like one of the best ways is to really stop and check in with yourself internally and work on some ways of how you kind of receive the information that’s coming to you.

I’m sure you have a lot of strategies that you use with your clients so what… what are some things that you use to help them cope?

Gail: Well, everybody’s different, so I try to have a conversation with them about what is part of that. Sometimes, we simply have to come up with some strategies for what I call, ‘clear out the chaos’.

If they have a very chaotic lifestyle, no matter what they do, it’s gonna all come back, so we have to really talk about practical things and things they can or should do to simplify life – that would be one.

And then sometimes, people can’t really change the circumstances of their life very readily, and they have certainly fixed things so we try to find ways to cope as best as possible.
I view medication as a last choice where possible because I’ve seen so many people have trouble getting off of it. Furthermore medication, specifically for anxiety, tends to be very addictive, so that’s another reason to not go in that direction. However, there are times when the benefit outweighs the risk, so sometimes we would recommend that.

Lindsey: Well, let’s talk about some alternatives to medicine because I don’t necessarily promote it and I know you’re not in that line of work where you prescribe medicine, so what sort of things are you doing?

Gail: Well, a lot of people really like to exercise and they already make it part of their life. If they don’t, I recommend they do. Maybe a total of 2.5 hours a week of some kind of long muscle exercise is thought to be beneficial in every way to everything, including your brain. So that’s a very good technique… exercise. If you like running, walking, swimming, any of those can be calming.

Another one is simply being out in nature believe it or not. I think being by the water, or hiking in the mountains, or something like that. If you can do that on a weekend with yourself or with your children, that’s very good for you.

Sometimes there are certain kinds of teas that are calming – Chamomile tea is well-known to do that, and there are some other teas that can help to calm.

Essential oils is something I know that you like.

Lindsey: Aromatherapy.

Gail: Aromatherapy, and I believe most people don’t think of that as their first go-to with anxiety, but it can be helpful to spray Lavender on your pillow or have it on your wrist or on a tissue and inhale it. Put it on the bottom of your feet at night and it’ll help you sleep better and can have calming effects. There are others as well, I think Roman chamomile is one.

Lindsey: Roman Chamomile. Earth ones – Rosemary, Frankincense those would be ones I recommend.

Gail: Yes, put those in a diffuser or wear them, perhaps as a scent. It travels through the olfactory system to the limbic system which is our emotional center. It produces a calming effect so essential oils can be helpful.’

Lindsey: Okay.

Gail: Any kind of meditation is really helpful. One of the thinking lines today is that mindfulness meditation is good for everybody.

Lindsey: So what does that mean?

Gail: Well, it is simply refocusing your thoughts to the present moment. So if I’m washing a cup, I’m washing a cup. An anxious person will be washing the cup and they’re thinking about something else, so bringing the thoughts and feeling into what you’re doing presently.

Lindsey: I’m guilty of that and that has actually been one of the strategies I’ve been using to bring myself back into calmness. Trying to be present and focused on the task at hand. You’ll find it’s a lot harder than you think because most people are like, “Oh yeah, I can do that” and really we’re accustomed to this. We have a thousand things happening so we’re accustomed to thinking of the to-do list that’s a mile long rather than just focusing in those 5 minutes of being present.

Gail: Right. So then, other kinds of meditation can be very helpful. I teach progressive relaxation and self-hypnosis which actually if you can get into that state of relaxation (you can do it in about 10 or 15 minutes), this actually takes you to the opposite state. One cannot be in the severely anxious state and in that relaxed state at the same time because they’re opposite states. So I teach people how to get into that.

Lindsey: Okay and actually speaking of that, we’ll put a link below the video. Mom has a deep relaxation hypnosis up on an app called ‘Insight timer’, so I’ll put a link below. You can get that, it’s free and you have quite a lot of good reviews on it, so I know you have a lot of success with hypnosis. That’s definitely something I would highly recommend you guys check out.

So we’ve got hypnosis, what about some other things?

Gail: I was gonna say there are some apps that you can get on the phone and that help with anxiety. Believe it or not, there’s an app for that.

Lindsey: Of course.

Gail: I guess three of my favorites are ‘Insight timer’. That’s a very rich app. It has many many things in it. The other two that I know of that seem to help is one called ‘Calm’ and then the other one that is also helpful with anxiety is one called ‘Pacifica’.

Lindsey: Pacifica, okay.

Gail: So put those on your smartphone. There’s a lot of information available right there and you might want to read about this. Old-fashioned reading. I always think knowledge is power, so to really understand what is the basis of anxiety, that can be helpful.

One of my favorite books is one written in the 1980s, by a very highly acclaimed expert by the name of Dr. David Burns. I’ve actually heard him speak. He wrote a book called, ‘The Feeling Good Handbook’ and I believe there are some others that he’s written since then and many of my clients have found that the strategies in there are helpful.

One of the biggest techniques that are frequently used is something called ‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’ which in essence means to change how you think. Change your thoughts, you change your life.

Lindsey: So reframing.

Gail: Right, so everything to do with that. A little tiny trick that some people can do when they are in ‘runaway awfulizing’ as I call it is to put a little band around their wrist and snap it when they see themselves going in a bad direction. Do this gently not harshly. And then saying, Hmm, stop how could I think about this different?

So the strategy is basically to stop what you’re thinking and try to think about it differently. One of the things you and I talked about before was maybe we could put a list of some replacement thoughts together.

Lindsey: Yes, we will. We’re gonna have a download below for you guys.
I actually use this personally. I use reframing a lot and I think that that has drastically shifted my view about life and has really kept me calm. I always have a couple common themes of the things that I would get anxious over, so I pulled 3 or 4 positive thoughts to use when I know my brain is going down that direction. I can easily pull myself back with a positive thought.

Everybody has different themes around anxiety or fear over, but mom you have a couple of common ones, so we’ll list the negative ones and then put some positive thoughts that you can use to reframe. I think that that would be very helpful.

Gail: Good.

Lindsey: So we’ve talked about the resources. Are there any other resources?

Gail: Rather than a resource, one strategy, which is probably a separate interview, would be Emotional Freedom Technique. I teach certain acupressure techniques, techniques that are based on ancient healing practices. These are techniques and strategies where you can touch or tap or massage on certain parts of the body and pair that with certain kinds of words. This helps immensely with these situations, so that’s another one. It’s called EFT.

Lindsey: Those seem to be some really good ones.

Well, actually I think that probably wraps up everything that I really wanted to talk about with anxiety.

Again all of these things that mom has been talking about are things that I have used personally and I know you use them every day in your practice.

Here are the links to all those resources we talked about:

I hope you like this video. If you did or if you know of somebody who could use this video, please share it with them.

Leave us a comment too. We’re happy to answer any questions.

You can reach out to mom if you live in Maryland. She’s seeing lots of patients and I know she has a good success rate with it.

So, alright guys, I hope you have a good one and I’ll see you next time. :)

Lindsey Victoria

Lindsey Victoria

Lindsey is the author of A Life Well-Balanced, a lifestyle blog dedicated to helping people live a more balanced life – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.


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