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7860 Mission Center Ct, Suite 209
San Diego, CA, 92108


At The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, our psychologists have years of experience. Unlike many other providers, our clinicians truly specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and related problems. Our mission is to apply only the most effective short-term psychological treatments supported by extensive scientific research. We are located in Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad, and Mission Valley.

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Read our award-winning blogs for useful information and tips about anxiety, stress, and related disorders.


Filtering by Tag: low mood

How To Listen When Someone You Love Is Struggling

Jill Stoddard

by Annabelle Parr

Life presents us each with challenges.  While it is often uncomfortable and painful to grapple with adversity, to experience this struggle and to feel pain is to be human.  At some point, we will all find ourselves in this place, as will those we love.  So how can we help each other?  How can we listen when someone we love is struggling, whether it is with a mental health condition or with a painful experience in his/her life?


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It is painful to watch someone we care for struggle or hurt.  And it’s natural to want to take away her pain or try to fix the problem at hand.  However, despite our best intentions, trying to “fix” does not actually help.  It tends to make the person struggling feel as though she cannot share her pain, sadness, or anger.  Trying to “fix” sends this message: “I can’t handle seeing you in pain, so I have to make everything better.”  It also implies that it is not okay to feel sad or angry or anxious, and that these feelings should be avoided at all costs.


Just like our impulse to fix the pain, we also often believe that the best way to help is to offer advice.  But advice is usually not helpful for several reasons.

  1. If we offer good advice, our loved one will think that anytime he is struggling, he needs our instruction. 
  2. If we offer bad advice or our advice doesn’t work as we hoped, our loved one can place the blame on us instead of owning responsibility.
  3. Advice takes away the gift of helping our loved one to realize that she knows herself best, and ultimately she is capable of navigating difficult situations herself.  (Though, of course, she will always have our love and support).


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If you have had a similar experience or believe that you have felt the same way, you can share this with your loved one.  But don’t make it all about you.  Keep your story brief, and make sure the purpose of the story is to let him know that he is not alone.  Also, be sure to include that you understand that your experience, while maybe parallel in some ways, is yours, and you are not claiming to have experienced the exact same situation or feelings.  This allows him to feel comfort in not being alone, but also gives him space to communicate how his experience may be different.

If we shouldn’t try to fix the pain or offer advice, and we should limit how much we share of our own experience, what can we do to help?


This shows that we are listening, and gives us the opportunity to clarify that which we don’t understand fully.  While it may sound too simple to just reflect what our loved one is saying, it actually makes the person feel heard and understood.  It also offers her the opportunity to hear what she is expressing, and to clarify how she feels or what she wants.


Nodding and using eye contact and engaged body language shows that we are interested and open to what our loved one is sharing.  It gives him the space to express himself, and makes him feel heard.


Empathy is: “I see that you are struggling and hurting right now, and I am so sorry.  I can’t fix it for you or take it away, but I will sit here with you and listen to your story.  As much as this hurts, it is okay to feel this way.”

Check out Brene Brown’s brilliant short on empathy.

Sometimes, all our loved ones need when they are in pain is to be heard; to be given a space with someone they trust to express how they are feeling.  Sometimes, however, they may need some extra support or professional help.


If you or someone you love might benefit from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or biofeedback for anxiety, depression, stress, or PTSD, or if you would like more information about our therapy services, please contact us at (858) 354-4077 or at

Brown, B.  (2013, Dec 10).  Brené Brown on empathy. Retrieved from


Blue Christmas? 10 Tips to Fight Low Mood Over the Holidays

Jill Stoddard

by Lucas Myers


The holidays are a particularly difficult time of year for many people. The stress and pressures that surround the season can cause a spike in anxiety, stress, and low mood that can be difficult to manage alone. In order to protect yourself from becoming overwhelmed, find ways to reach out and reconnect with those who care and will help. It can be more important than ever to have a strong network of friends and family to turn to in these times. Feeling down, stressed, or anxious  can make it really difficult to reach out for help. However, isolation and loneliness lower mood even more, so making time for social activities and maintaining close relationships is very important. To get started here are 10 Tips for Building Supportive Relationships.

  1. Call or email an old friend. You might be surprised to discover who has been waiting to hear from you.
  2. Talk to one person about your feelings. Your trust can strengthen your relationship.
  3. Have lunch or coffee with a friend. Even if you keep it light, sharing time will keep connection.
  4. Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly. He or she will appreciate having you reach out.
  5. Help someone else by volunteering. Everyone needs help sometimes; there's no better way to feel good about yourself than to help someone else.
  6. Go for a walk with a workout buddy. Talking is optional, exercise is always quality time.
  7. Meet new people with common interests by taking a class or joining a club. is a great way to find people with similar interests.
  8. Schedule a weekly or monthly dinner. Take turns picking restaurants or preparing the meal. This can become a tradition everyone involved looks forward to.
  9. Invite a buddy to the movies, a concert, or a small get together. Fun activities are a great way to connect.
  10. Confide in a counselor, therapist, or clergy member. They are good listeners and are invested in helping you to overcome life's challenges.

Lifting the weight of a heavy or anxious mood and keeping it away can be greatly impacted by getting the support that you need. Connecting with others can help to maintain perspective and reinforce your efforts. If you are suffering, the thought of reaching out to even your closest friends and family members may seem overwhelming. You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed, or even guilty for neglecting the relationship. This is your mood talking. Remind yourself that you are not the only person to feel this way. If you saw someone you care about suffering, you would want to help. In the same way, your loved ones care about you and want to help.


Even small steps toward recovery will add up quickly. For all the energy you put into your relationships, you'll get back much more in return. Here are some final suggestions to leverage your relationships and social activities as a weapon in the fight against emotional suffering:

Even if you don't feel like it, try to keep up with social activities. When you're down or overwhelmed, it often feels easiest to retreat into your shell. It is important to remind yourself that being around other people will make you feel better.

Turn to family members and trusted friends. Share what you are going through with the people in your life that you love and trust the most. Allow yourself to accept their help and support. You may find that you have retreated from your most treasured relationships – it is these relationships that you should turn to now to get you through tough times.

Join a support group. The company of others  can go a long way toward decreasing feelings of isolation. You can offer one another advice on coping, share your experiences, and provide encouragement. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a good resource for finding a support group in your area.

If your feelings of low mood, stress, or depression begin to interfere with your normal functioning and persist for an extended period, you might want to consider reaching out for professional help. If you would like to speak with a professional at The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, you may contact us at 858-354-4077 or To see a list of other mental health conditions that we specialize in, click here.

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