Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: October 2023

What If We Stopped Fighting Anxiety? A Mindful Approach to Reducing Anxiety

No one enjoys having anxiety yet most of us grapple with it daily, to some degree. We might be frustrated with our anxiety, or even ashamed of it. For some, it can be debilitating. So we do what any reasonable person would do when they don't want something. Try to push it away. But here's the thing - the more you resist anxiety, the worse it gets.

It sounds counterintuitive, but it's important to accept your anxiety as a natural part of you, and a mechanism that is meant to keep you safe. You might even show gratitude for your anxiety while acknowledging that, other than helping you jump out of the way of a speeding car or rush your sick child to the doctor, that chronic state of "fight, flight, or flee" is not serving you. When trying to develop new habits in place of old less helpful ones, it's important to treat yourself with kindness and compassion.

There will always be stressors in our lives, but we have the power to train our brains to cope with anxiety in a healthier way, one that makes anxiety less taxing on our minds and bodies. Neuroplasticity means our brains reorganize connections and change shape based on the information they're sent. Think of when you learn a skill like playing the piano. You don't start off playing Beethoven. You practice your scales over and over, feeding your brain as you learn. Your brain will continue to grow and rewire, forming the synaptic connections it needs to allow you to eventually play effortlessly.

Similarly, we can train our brains to be able to handle anxiety with more ease. That's not to say anxiety will ever feel relaxing or fun, but we'll eventually be better equipped to deal with whatever life throws our way.

We do this by first pausing. Stop and recognize that you are having anxiety. Simply by being mindful of the way you're feeling creates a little space between you and your anxiety. Imagine a large movie screen in front of you and watch yourself on the screen, having anxiety. That might sound silly, but now you are witnessing your experience, which means that you can't be the experience. That separation allows us a moment to take a few calming breaths. You are no longer in an emotional reaction mode, rather you now have access to your "thinking brain." You can utilize executive function to make a mindful and deliberate choice about what to do next. Even more, you can check in with yourself and ask what it is you need at that moment.

This is not an easy practice and, like learning to play piano, takes a lot of patience and repetition. It might begin with you noticing that you were very anxious only after the fact. That's okay. Over time, you'll learn to be mindful while having anxiety. You might eventually become mindful at the early signs of anxiety and lessen its impact, responding rather than reacting.

There are several tools you can use to self-regulate when you notice you're having anxiety. It's good to begin with sensing the whole space you're in. Focus on the room, or what's around you outside. Then put your awareness into the soles of your feet. Notice how they feel against the ground. Begin to breathe in through your nose, and exhale out slowly through your mouth as if blowing through a straw. Do about three or four breath cycles. Check in again - how do you feel?

Changing your brain takes time, patience, and persistence, but it will be well worth it when you're able to diminish the negative effects anxiety can have on our physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing. Allow yourself to be motivated by the positive changes you feel in your mood, outlook, and even your relationships.

I Want to Help YOU! Remote Wellness Coaching for those who can't visit

I love hearing from all of you. Your likes, comments, and donations mean the world to me. Now I want to step it up and provide you with individualized advice, tools, techniques, and treatment plans, which is why I am offering video chat wellness sessions.

Video wellness coaching is perfect for those of you who:

  • Want to visit but are too far away.
  • Have asked for my help with specific pain or injuries, but I haven't known enough about you to help you properly - now I can!
  • Want to better manage anxiety and stress.
  • Want to be empowered with the tools you need to help yourself.
  • Pain or an injury seems to be lingering on and on and you need some new and effective strategies.
  • Want to ease pain and anxiety safely and effectively, without side effects.
  • Would like to compliment your regular treatment with self-care techniques and strategies that ease symptoms and speed up recovery.

Here's how it works:

  • I'll send you an electronic Intake form so that I can get familiar with your health history and treatment goals.
  • We will meet for an hour-long video session during which I'll advise you about self-care practices, self-massage, daily habits including ergonomics, body mechanics, sleep habits, corrective exercises, stretching, anxiety-reduction techniques, etc., all tailored to your needs and goals.
  • After our session, you'll get an email with notes from our meeting including important points to remember, self-care videos related to our session that you can use to build your self-care practice, articles, websites, or anything else I feel you'll find useful for your wellness journey.

If your wellness coaching experience is beneficial and you'd like more, or would like some guidance developing and refining your self-care practice, I'm always happy to see you for follow up appointments.

I am so excited to finally meet you, and to be able to help you personally, beyond my videos! The best way to reach me to set up a session is through email at massage@rachel-richards.com. I can't wait to see you!

What's new with me ...

I thoroughly enjoyed the Happy Minds Summit, and I hope those of you who joined me were as delighted as I was. Thanks to the many wonderful speakers, I am dedicated to employing tools like a gratitude journal, mindfulness practice, and positive thinking to create more balance in my life and more joy each day. If you attended the Summit, perhaps you are joining me for the 30-day Happy Minds Challenge. If so, let me know how it's going for you so far!

Happy Trick or Treating!

Call or text me today

I'd be happy to answer
any questions you have!


Fill out my online form.

Subscribe to my Youtube channel!

American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

Available now!

Available now!

Did you know?