part 2 of Addressing anxiety

By Ann MacFadyen

In the first step of managing anxiety I talked about the first strategy AAMO, which is an acronym I created to represent “ammunition”, The second strategy is utilized by visualization.

You can begin by drawing a tree with several branches and leaves. Make the leaves big enough that you can write a word in them. Label each leave ( or as many leaves as you need) a worry or anxious thought. Once you label the leave, draw the same leaf falling off the tree and blowing away in the wind. By doing this you are “journaling” your anxious thoughts to get them out of your mind  and on to paper (acknowledging and accepting) and you are sending them on their way with the wind.


Use this tree as a reminder that thoughts don’t have to be dangerous or permanent, they are just thoughts and they come and GO! If you do not want to draw them out, you can practice visualization. Visualize the leaves with worries on them blowing away one leaf at a time. It’s almost like counting sheep. Each leaf (worry) is gently falling, on a beautiful fall day, and blowing away out of your mind, and into the wind! You are once again, moving on!



Managing Anxiety for All Ages

Feelings of anxiety can hit a person at any time on any given day. Anxiety doesn’t always wait for an anxiety provoking event to occur, it can appear thinking about a past event, a present situation, or a future anticipated event. Anxiety can actually appear out of nowhere just by your brain linking a similar situation or seeing a person that reminds you of someone that caused feelings of anxiety.I have found that there are three strategies that have been successful in managing anxiety. In the event you experience anxiety, especially in a public place that warrants a quick strategy to manage it, this first  strategy may be helpful…
AAMO. I created this acronym that represents “ammunition”. The first A stands for Acknowledge. Acknowledge that anxious thought. Do not try to push it out no matter how uncomfortable it feels. When trying to force certain thoughts out of your mind, it actually can have a reverse effect, The anxious thought most times comes back with a vengeance. Instead acknowledge it.
The second A stands for Acceptance. Accept that you are feeling anxious. Instead of saying “I am anxious” Tell yourself, ” I am having a thought that I am anxious”. In the case of fear, instead of saying “I am scared to death”, Say to yourself, “I am having a thought that I am really scared”. How does this help? When you talk in absolutes, you own the thought and label it as permanent. When you change your language to “I am having a thought she does not like me” It tells your brain that it is just a thought, and we have thousands of thoughts in a day, therefore this thought will pass along through like the many other thoughts we have.
The M, stands for Move, and the O stands for On.. Move on. Move on after you acknowledge and accept the thought. Chances are the thought that is bringing you anxiety will move on out of your mind because you are accepting it and not forcing it to leave. It reinforces to your brain, and self, that it is safe to have these thoughts, they are not going to harm you, and you can safely send them on their way in other words, you are MOVING ON!
Coming up next week, I will introduce the second strategy that you can practice to be more at peace, and be in control of anxiety at any time, anywhere!


Ann macfadyen, lpc

“When trying to force certain thoughts out of your mind, it actually can have a reverse effect. The anxious thought most times comes back with a vengeance. Instead, acknowledge it.”


Redefining 2020 for Your Child

We are heading into the new unknown; a whole academic year on a computer, a 24/7 work from home culture, our cup runneth over with stress and chaos. 

Let us find the right tools, simple strategies, to balance our home life. Our kids of all ages are learning to navigate more independently through virtual learning. We should accept this challenge and find the right space and means to let them be successful. As you’ve heard a million times: at a real table, with plenty of light, and little distractions.

More important than uploading homework by midnight, is to validate the anxiety and irritability that your child/teen will feel. Validation is powerful no matter the age. We need that too!

Then, we have to also gear up and model good coping and stress management. It is imperative they see some of the struggle on a Wednesday evening and hear you use a feeling word followed by a five minute break, or telling Alexa to play a goofy song.

Support these children, do not forget about them when you have had a rough day. They are continuing to be distanced from peers when developmentally it should be a main pillar to their lives. Let them grieve that. 

Redefine this year in your own mind first. Adjust your expectations but try not to lower your standards. We still want routine and self-care. The family still needs family dinners and bedtimes. Support your friends, call your parents. We are redefining 2020-2021 academic year together. One this is certain, you as a parent, it is all about Survive and Advance. You will in fact survive the WFH lifestyle and your child will in fact learn things and advance. 


“Children learn more from what you are, than what you teach.”

W.E.B. DuBois


validate Feelings

Tell them you hear what they’ve said. Repeat in your own words what you heard.




Practice “I Statements” and take turns sharing thoughts and ideas. Take breaks if necessary.

problem solve

Help your child identify ways to cope. Get creative with Calm Down Corners and resources to use to relax.




Follow up with your child later in the night or the next day. Reflect with them about how they feel now and what else can change going forward.