(310) 600-9912 drmoali@oasis2care.com

Anxiety is a normal emotion and can be a healthy response to a situation. All of us experience anxiety. But my work as a psychologist brings me in contact with people struggling with an anxiety that has taken over their lives. These are young, smart, professional men and women who usually have already tolerated the pain of their anxiety for years. Some tried therapy for a session or two with a therapist who was not a good fit and gave up on it.

The good news is that there are effective, research-proven techniques that work for most. But you need to commit to practicing them regularly if you want long-term change!

Stop Following Strategies That Don’t Work

We all have mood-management strategies. Some might have worked short term. Others never worked, but we keep hoping one day they will. I have clients who relied on alcohol, drugs, sex, or food to control their anxiety. These can help you manage your anxiety in the moment. However, long term they can add to your problems. It is possible to develop an unhealthy dependency on them. Additionally, they only mask the real problem.

Many people with anxiety try to escape their emotions. Distraction can be a good strategy in a crisis. But it never works for long. Dr. Steve Hayes, the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy compares pushing your emotions away to playing tug of war with them.

In this battle, the harder you pull, the harder anxiety pulls back. There is no winning this game. You only waste your mental energy, focusing on something that just creates more suffering. If you play this game, you only remain anxious. Additionally, you can also feel frustrated and defeated, because you are not escaping anxiety.

Some of my clients often ask me, if it is wrong that they try to control their emotions with alcohol or drugs. But there is no right or wrong way of managing anxiety. What matters is whether it works for you or not. If your behavior is congruent with your values and the life you want to live, this is the right path for you. If not, then you need to stop immediately!

I encourage you to list of all the techniques that you have used to manage your anxiety. Don’t judge them as good or bad, only list them. Then go over your list and mark those that stopped working for you or do not match the life you want. Commit to stopping yourself the next time you catch yourself engaging in those behaviors. Use one of the techniques below.

Practice Daily Meditation

We all heard about the importance of meditation, but few of us ever made commitment to practice these skills on daily basis. Part of the issue is that most people have an inaccurate information about what they need to do or how to practice it effectively.

Meditation is a strategy that is used to train the mind to focus and develop enhanced awareness for relaxation. There is no wrong or right way of doing it. The key is to pratice it consistently. Several Studies  reported the long term effect of practicing meditation on reducing anxiety, decreasing stress, and increasing overall well being.

If you are still on fence about whether it is worth it to make commitment to meditate, check out the video below where, Dr. Richard Davidson, Harvard gradate and professor of psychology and psychiatry explains the benefit of meditation on changes mental ability and also physical changes in the brain.

If you haven’t practice meditation in the past or don’t know where to start, I recommend you start with practicing 5 minutes first thing in the morning or at night. Although many seasoned practitioners meditate without any external guidance, I highly recommend you starting by playing one of the audios below:





Don’t get disappointed if your mind gets distracted. It is part of the process learn how to redirect your mind

Opposite-to-Emotion Action

The idea behind this strategy is to act opposite to your emotions. This strategy is not about repressing your emotions. In contrary, the first step is to identify your emotion, validate it and pay close attention to action that this emotion urges you to take. For example, if your anxiety tells you not go to a social event, the opposite action would be for you to go to the party and force yourself to at least interact with one other person.

The philosophy behind this strategy is that every single behavior or action we take, communicate to our brain and has potential to change our emotions. This will not work if you are doing it once or twice, you need to identify one emotion that you will focus challenges for at least 3 to 6 months. Although it might be extremely uncomfortable to do the opposite action, one of the most effective treatments of anxiety is exposing yourself to a feared situation. It is important to set yourself for success and choose the small steps that you will be able to take consistently.

If you are still thinking this is not worth the pain, check the video below where Marsha Linehan the founder of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy talks about why this is one of her “all time favorites”:


Above are only few of the strategies that is scientifically proven to work for many people who are struggling with anxiety. Remember that not every single strategy would work for everyone; however, working with a psychologist will help you to find the right combination of techniques that will help you to beat your anxiety long term.


Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a Los Angeles Based psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders with adults and adolescents. Dr. Moali has been trained in cutting edge strategies for managing anxiety by some of the nation’s finest researchers and educators. She offers in person therapy in her two offices in Torrance and Hermosa Beach and also online using a confidential video counseling platform.

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