Taking STEPS to Tackle Anxiety

By Zvi Weiss, PsyD

Most research estimates that the average person makes around 35,000 decisions a day. What to eat, what to wear, whether to take this or that route to work, whether to say that thought or keep it to ourselves. Some of these we experience as active decisions, while others are so minuscule, we don’t even realize that we are making a decision.

Sometimes, however, decisions can become so big, nebulous, and overwhelming that they morph into a whole separate category known as problems. When problems occur, anxiety is often not far behind. When we become anxious, we can get lost in worry thoughts and feelings, and even lose sight of the problem that is causing our anxiety. We can get distracted by the feeling of anxiety or the enormity of the problem that we face, and forget that underneath this balloon of worry is often simply a decision to be made, not wholly unlike the other 35,000 that we encounter every day.

It follows, then, that when we are feeling anxious, an important approach is to stop and consider ways of problem solving that we typically do automatically when approaching other decisions. Because of the anxious emotions that we’re feeling, this may not be an automatic a process, so we need a way to remember how to tackle decisions in an organized and productive way. A tried-and-tested means of decision-making and problem-solving can be remembered with the word STEPS:

S- Say what the problem is.

 We often feel so overwhelmed by the problem that we face that it’s hard to define exactly what the problem is. The first step is to define the problem operationally so that there is a clear explication of what needs to be resolved. Understanding and describing the problem is the first step in finding a resolution.

T –Think of possible solutions

 Make a list of all possible solutions – no matter how unlikely, improbable, or unrealistic. List ways in which this problem can be approached, both practically and theoretically. Even if a problem strikes you as a bad idea, jot it down anyway.

E- Evaluate each solution

 Consider each solution individually and come up with each one’s pros and cons. Be as honest as you can in evaluating, and don’t hold back from listing even minor reasons why a solution may be a good or bad one.

P- Pick one solution

 Once all the possible solutions have been listed and evaluated, pick one of them based on the factors that have been considered. It is rare that one of the solutions will emerge as perfect (if there were an easily-accessed and perfect solution, it likely wouldn’t be such a problem!), and there may need to be some addition brainstorming on how to manage and approach the cons that exist.

S- See if it works!

 Apply that solution and see if it works. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, go back to the possible solutions that were listed and evaluated, and chose another. Sometimes we need a few tries to find a solution to a problem or decision that both alleviates our anxiety as well as effectively solves the problem.

Using this system, we can methodically approach many (if not all) of our decisions and problems that fuel our anxious thinking and feeling. In fact, most of the time we use this approach naturally without even noticing that we’re doing it. However, when emotions get in the way of our employing our natural capabilities, using this simple approach may help in getting us unstuck and feeling better.

Inspirational Message

The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules—but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.


What Clients Say

In a recent survey of our patients, 94% would recommend our practice to a friend.
Calmer in the Face of Hardship
I came to the Center for Anxiety for help in dealing with a family member who suffered from extreme anxiety. But I ended up getting a serious illness two months later and started having my own sessions. With the help of my therapist I got through my illness, learned to understand my habits that were making my major life stresses worse, learned to communicate better, taper my anger, and surprisingly I became more calmer even though my hardships in life worsened. Therapy is a lot of work and not easy, but nothing in life comes easy! I became a better and softer mom and (when I practice what I learned) and my kids and home are calmer and happier. I am still a work in progress and have more to work on, but I know I am on the right path. I wish I knew before how my communication style and anger were really impacting my life, how being softer you can accomplish way more then being harsh. I have been to other therapists in the past and I can hands down say that the Center for Anxiety’s approach is really effective. I have even referred a bunch of people to the Center and they have been really happy with the therapists and how much they really care for their patients.
I Tackled a Long List of Fears
When I first came to the Center for Anxiety, my list of anxieties/fears was long! I was scared of getting sick, getting stranded, driving, flying and more. With the help of my therapist, I immediately got to work and tackled every one of my fears. Now the world is open to me and I feel free! I can dream big and accomplish whatever I set my mind to! I am especially grateful that I was able to do all this without having to rely on medication. It was hard work – grueling at times! – but now I have the coping tools within me for life. In fact a family member recently said to me “You are awesome. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to because you don’t let fear stop you! ” Thank you Dr. Rosmarin and the Center for Anxiety staff for helping me get here. My fears no longer limit me and I love my life. Try it, it might turn your life around too!
Highly Skilled and Professional Treatment
When I sought treatment at the Center for Anxiety, the clinic was is in its incipient stages. However, by the time I successfully finished treatment, the Center for Anxiety grew and flourished into a world-class treatment center, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment to countless individuals. The continued success of the Center for Anxiety comes as no surprise to me, with a team that contains such highly skilled professionals who display clinical acumen, empathy, and compassion. When I first entered treatment I was concerned that therapy would be similar to the experiences with past psychologists: a seemingly bottomless pit with no reductions in my anxiety symptoms, but was so relieved when I started to feel less anxious after only a handful of sessions. My therapist created a treatment plan that was tailored exactly to my needs and taught me practical skills to help me work through my anxiety that I still use and practice to this very day.
No More Panic
When I first came in, I was struggling with panic disorder and didn’t even know it, which only made dealing with it that much more difficult. After my first time sitting down with my therapist, however, I instantly started to gain perspective and look at the difficult situation in a different light. Our meetings helped me conquer the issue step by step and get my life back on track. I’d strongly recommend that anyone dealing with anxiety in a way that impacts their day to day life should visit the Center for Anxiety! I know it helped me tremendously.
Free of Obsessions
When I woke up one morning last June and didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew I needed help. The thought of getting through another day with all my anxieties, obsessions and rituals was just too overwhelming. After feeling stuck for years, I just couldn’t anymore. Thankfully, that’s when I found the Center for Anxiety. Dr. Rosmarin and his staff are experts at what they do, kind and professional. After just several weeks I accomplished my initial targets. The change I experienced in such a short amount of time was astounding that I stayed on for a while longer to work on more complex goals. I soon achieved those too. Now, I am free of my obsessions, know how to manage my anxiety, and love my life. My only regret: not having done this sooner. I wish I had known that you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to get help.
Depression Lifted
I’m 26 years old and I’ve been suffering from terrible depression for 7 years. In the throws of my sadness I literally wanted to die. Soon after starting therapy at the Center for Anxiety, my depression lifted. My suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. I remember the feeling that came over me as soon as the dark cloud above me left. It was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. I actually shouted to my friends, family and anyone nearby me “I’m Happy! I am Happy!” I felt free.
Over the course of four years I developed anxiety-like symptoms (tightness in chest, gut, back) that slowly but surely increased in duration and severity. The EXTREMELY uncomfortable nature of the symptoms notwithstanding, I still continued and managed to function. The effort required to do so, however, left me utterly drained. Having always been a very spiritual person I strongly felt that a course of therapy incorporating a spiritual component could potentially work well for me and decided to give the Center for Anxiety a try. Happily, I have achieved significant symptom reduction, tremendously improved emotional/mental health, and above all, Connection. Medication free. I’m no longer just existing, I’m LIVING. I’ve been given a second chance to become the unique human being that I was meant to be.
No More worries
I have wormed in healthcare for 36 years in many different settings, and I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the Center for Anxiety. When staff says they are going to call, I get a call. From the first contact, I have been very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency. I had a situation and needed to have sessions more than once per week, and my clinicians worked out a schedule to accommodate my needs. I was astounded that they attended to me so quickly and effectively - they made my priority their priority. My clinicians were also excellent at what they do - they have a plan for me each session, and it's clear that they have thought in advance about each session, and that they are listening to what I say and observing what I do, even though our sessions have been conducted via Telehealth. Compassion is a quality that I have all too often found to be lacking in my experiences as a healthcare professional and patient, and this is not the case with the Center for Anxiety. Of all the websites I found on Google, I am so thankful that God guided my hand to yours.

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