Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beating the Swine Flu Anxiety Blues

Have you been following the news about swine flu? Has your anxiety kicked in to overdrive yet? If not, congratulations! If yes, here are a few thoughts to help you put it in perspective.

  1. Thousands of people die of the flu every year, yet most of us haven't, and many of us don't even get the flu.
  2. We are all going to die of something someday. For now, let's focus on getting the most out of life!
  3. Worrying about swine flu can't keep us from getting it.
  4. Taking steps to stay healthy in general can help us have a happier and healthier life.
  5. Getting over anxious about something that may or may not happen can keep us from living and enjoying our lives fully.
  6. Taking steps to reduce anxiety can help us live a healthier and fuller life.

Will any of this keep us from getting the swine flu, if and when it does come around? Probably not. But hopefully it helps relieve anxiety. When we are able to overcome anxiety, we are more able to cope with whatever life brings.



Kate Boswell MFT is a licensed therapist in Marina del Rey, CA. She helps people cope with anxiety and take steps toward the kind of lives they want to live. She serves the nearby towns of Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Culver City, Venice, and Westchester, and the greater West Los Angeles area. Kate can be reached at 310-658-3158 and

Relieving Anxiety with Nature Imagery

Last night at sundown I saw two elegant blue herons gracefully and lightly landing in a gently swaying palm tree. Today a bit of anxiety kicked in, while trying to figure out something in cyberspace.

I took a moment and remembered those beautiful birds, gently moving through the sky and making their light landing. Quite a feat for such huge creatures!

This image was very refreshing and calming. Then I went back to work, feeling more focused and confident.

Do you have a favorite nature image? Do you have a moment to stop and remember it? If not, can you get out for a walk and see what shows up? There are many ways to cope with anxiety, and this is one of the easiest and most pleasant.



Kate Boswell MFT is a therapist in Marina del Rey, CA. She helps people cope with anxiety and stress, and face life's challenges with confidence. She serves the nearby towns of Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Culver City, Venice, and Westchester, and the greater West Los Angeles area. She can be reached at 310-658-3158 and

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring into Healthy Habits to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Spring has sprung. Birds are singing. Flowers are blooming. In case you didn't read my last post, it really is time to get outside.

Did you know that Spring Equinox is celebrated as the New Year in some cultures around the world? It is a celebration of new life and new possibilities.

Even on our calendar year, we are not too far into the new year yet. If you have gotten into a rut, or forgotten about any resolutions for the new year, this could be a good time to start fresh.

Would you like to have less stress and anxiety, and more peace of mind? Being outdoors even for a little bit is just one way toward that goal. I am a proponent of getting out in all seasons, in all types of weather.

But, if you do better in fair weather, now it the time to get out. The fresh air and light exercise can help reduce anxiety and stress. If you are intently focused on work, or stewing over a stressful event, a little break outdoors can do wonders to refresh you. You may start liking it enough to make it a healthy habit.

As you walk along, feel the sun shining on your face or your hair. Imagine it is melting away stress. As the sun warms your shoulders, imagine your muscles becoming more and more relaxed.

As you walk along, notice what metaphors come to mind. See if you can come up with thoughts that describe your surroundings, or how you are feeling in your body. See if new perspectives come to mind. Then you can get back to work, or whatever else you were doing, feeling calmer and more focused.


Kate Boswell MFT is a therapist in private practice in Marina del Rey, Ca. She helps people get past anxiety and fear, and take steps toward the kind of lives they want to live. She can be reached at 310-658-3158 or

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reduce Anxiety and Stress by Getting Outdoors

If you are suffering with anxiety and stress, sometimes just a short break outdoors will help. Spring is almost here, and the weather is becoming more and more lovely. You may not notice it, though, it you are cooped up indoors worrying about your troubles.

Getting outdoors for a short walk can help in several ways:
  • fresh air and light exercise is a mood booster
  • noticing your surroundings can give you a break from worry
  • it may help you reconnect with nature and your own body, so you feel less "spacey"
  • the new field of "ecopsychology" is showing that time in nature is very healing emotionally

How to get started:

  • start where you are, with a short walk down the street or around the block
  • pay attention to sensations such as the sun on your face, or the breeze in your hair
  • notice the natural world around you, even if it is only a tree on a city street, or a weed pushing through a crack in the pavement
  • tell your worries you are on a short break and will get back to them soon enough

I hope these short tips have been helpful. For more information on stress reduction, see my website for a short article on three easy ways to relieve stress.

Kate Boswell MFT is a therapist in private practice in Marina del Rey. She helps people get past anxiety and fear, and take steps toward the kind of lives they want to live. She can be reached at 310-658-3158 and through

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reducing Holiday Anxiety and Stress

Do you have more anxiety and stress during the Holidays? You are not alone. Many people become more anxious and stressed during the Holidays. And if you are prone to anxiety or panic attacks, you may be more at risk because of all the added activities and worries.

On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, a Walmart worker was stampeded to death by shoppers hungry for bargains. While this is an extreme incident, and most of us will never be involved in such an event, it does give us reason to pause. How is it that a day set aside to give thanks is followed by the most frenzied few weeks of the year?

My intent in this article is to give you some ideas for having a holiday season that is not too stressful. I hope that you will enjoy this time of celebration with peace in your heart and much enjoyment.

Instead of giving you a tired list of Top Ten Tips, I invite you to keep three principles in mind. Through adopting these three principles, you will come up with your own list of Best Tips that work for you. You will be able to make choices that nurture you. These three principles are: Balance, Simplicity, and and Gratitude.

By striving for Balance, you can enjoy what the season has to offer, without getting too stressed. With your choices guided by Balance, you can enjoy some of the seasonal treats, without blowing your healthy and nutritious diet. With Balance as your compass, you can decide whether you need more time with others or more time alone. You can strike a Balance between sitting around and moderate exercise. Balance will help you decide whether to have another slice of pie, or to take a walk around the block.

With Simplicity in mind, you can decide to streamline your "to do" list, and find easier ways to do things. Maybe you will decide to shorten your list of who to buy gifts for. Or do all your shopping online or in one store that you enjoy. Now how about all those potlucks you've been invited to. Can you think of easy things to prepare or to pick up?

Gratitude is a powerful tool which can keep us focused on Balance and Simplicity. By feeling grateful, we are more likely to feel content and happy with who we are and what we have. If you feel you are lacking in something, such as love, calmness, or happiness, chances are it is already in your life, at least in some small way. Notice when there are moments you feel happy, calm, or loving, and be grateful. Watch these attributes grow in your life.

Being guided by Gratitude, we are less likely to experience anything even remotely resembling the Walmart stampeding incident.

I hope these principles of Balance, Simplicity, and Gratitude will guide you toward a season of happiness and contentment.

Kate Boswell MFT is a therapist in private practice in Marina del Rey. She helps people get past anxiety and fear, and take steps toward the kind of lives they want to live. She can be reached at (310) 658-3158 or at

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Coping with Anxiety and Panic during Uncertain Economic Times

Are you feeling anxiety, fear, or panic during these economic times? You are not alone. This particular financial episode is a major historical event. It is normal and natural that you feel some anxiety over it. It is actually a sign of health that you are not simply ignoring it or pretending it is not happening.

Are your anxiety and fear so strong, however, that you aren't functioning so well? Do you lie awake worrying about your dwindling investments, or the security of your job or business? Do you worry that your anxiety or lack of sleep are affecting the quality of your work? Or do you worry that it won't matter anyway, because nothing can be done to safeguard your livelihood?

What follows are a few tips to help you cope better with the anxiety. To help you get a perspective that may help you get through this without falling apart.

1. Consider changing your interpretation and reaction. Do you think, "My work and my money will run out before this is over, and I will end up on skid row"? How do you feel when you think this way? Does it help energize you, or deplete your creativity for finding a solution to the problem? Try this out and see how you feel: "I have been through worse things in life. I will certainly survive this one." Or, "I have lived through a few recessions, and have never ended up homeless. This is certainly something I can handle."

2. Consider limiting your exposure to the media. This is not to suggest you should bury your head in the sand. It is to say that we often become news junkies, and let our moods soar up or down depending on the latest report. The economy goes down for a long streak, seems to pick up for a day, then plummets again. Keep in mind that exciting and catastrophic news is what sells, and therefore the news is coming to us in pretty dramatic language. The excitement and drama are strongest on television.

3. Don't start or end your day with the latest news report. This will intefere with your getting a good night's rest, or on starting the day with a more positive outlook.

4. Take good care of your health. This is no time to slack off in the area of nutrition or moderate exercise. Taking care of your health also includes having some kind of stress management routine. If you do not know any basic relaxation skills, see some of my other posts on this blog, or visit my website to read my article on Three Simple Ways to Relax.

5. Avoid any rash decisions. It can be tempting to start moving your resources around in a panic mode. If your decision are based on the latest news report of a given day, it will not likely be coming from a calm place. Step back and get a perspective before making any major changes.

6. Get professional help if needed. If you are considering seeking counseling to help deal with the anxiety, don't let the fear of spending stop you. If your anxiety is affecting your ability to make decisions or take actions, ask yourself if getting help would be a luxury or a necessity.

7. Cultivate an optimistic attitude. Which attitude, optimistic or fatalistic, will most likely energize you and calm your fears? Which attitude will most impress customers, clients, or your boss? Which attitude will help you get through these uncertain times with the most going for you?

8. Look for the opportunity in this crisis. Within every crisis or adversity is the opportunity for something better to come about. Often when we are in crisis mode, we just haven't yet recognized the opportunity. Keep an open mind and keep this idea in mind as you go about your day.

I hope these tips have been helpful to you. It is my wish that you will be inspired in some small way to rise above the panic and anxiety so prevalent these days, and come through this challenge with something good for yourself.

Kate Boswell MFT is a therapist in private practice in Marina del Rey, Ca. She helps people to overcome anxiety and fear, and take steps toward the kind of life they want. She can be reached at (310) 658-3158 or

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Coping with Anxiety: Walking for Relaxation

Walking can be a very calming and soothing way to cope with anxiety. When walking to soothe anxiety, it is best to walk slowly and peacefully. The idea is not to do a "get your heart pumping" fitness exercise, but to find peace of mind.

Nature images are very helpful for reducing anxiety and leading us to a calm and peaceful state. A walk on the beach is almost a universal stress soother. Walks on nature trails, through wetlands, canyons and woods also reduce anxiety.

Most of us don't have time to get to a natural area every time we want to lessen anxiety and feel peace. Most of us can, however, find a few minutes to walk daily, noticing and appreciating nature wherever we are.

My own calming routine includes daily walks through residential areas, and a weekly walk in a more natural setting. If you were to take a daily walk, noticing nature wherever you are, it just might become a pleasant habit, and you may find yourself spending a half hour to an hour at it most days.

While walking through a residential area, or even the city, notice the trees, birds, rosebushes and other flowers and plants. Even the ocassional dandelion or milk thistle weed growing through cracks in the sidewalk can conjure up images of being out in the wilderness.

On my daily walk, I let my mind go free, noticing and accepting sights and sounds that present themselves. There may be a loud car stereo playing, which I simply notice. Soon I pass by or it passes by, and I may notice a crow cawing or smaller birds chirping or singing. I have noticed crows effortlessly "falling" out of trees onto the ground. There is something peaceful about that for me.

On your walk, you will become aware of many peaceful images. I enjoy seeing the interplay of light and shadow. I enjoy feeling the warmth of the sun, and then the coolness of the shade, over and over again within one short walk.

You may notice the fragrance of a freshly mowed lawn, and then the smell of fresh manure, er, I mean fertilizer. Then you may pass a rosebush, or a planter full of rosemary, and stop to take in the scent.

Sometimes I see the wind gently blowing through the trees, and it seems as if they are enjoying the breeze caressing and cooling their green hair. Then I realize my own hair is being cooled and caressed by the breeze.

My hope is that my description of these enjoyable walks will encourage you to give it a try. That you will get out and experience a bit of nature, wherever you are. While walking slowly along, notice whatever you see, hear, feel or smell. Mentally describe it.

When your worries come to mind, just notice them too, and keep walking along, noticing the next thing. That way, your worries are just part of the overall picture, and at least for a short time, less consuming.


Kate Boswell, MFT, is a therapist in private practice in Marina del Rey. She helps people cope with anxiety, life altering illness, and other stressful life situations. For more information, visit her website