From Stress to Success: How Therapy Helped a NYC Subway Rider Reach Their Destination


Written by Counseling Space Clinician, Evelyn Crespo, LCSW-R

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Ever had the dreaded feeling of getting on the NYC subway?

You think, "It won’t be that bad this time, I’ll just get on the train and act like I'm okay. Like the overcrowdness doesn’t bother me, the threat of someone or me getting hurt doesn’t scare me, or that I won’t have a panic attack and lose my job because the train is late again. I’ll just pretend I don’t have those emotions or thoughts and get on the subway and hope for the best." But that’s not what happens - you get anxious, maybe you get off the train and decide to wait for the next one and end up leaving the station and going home, or you get into an argument with someone, or you witness something scary.

If you don’t have coping skills to manage these emotions they won’t get better, they may even get worse causing you to avoid the subway and take overpriced cabs or just miss living the life you want.

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I was working with a client who would say the subway brought out the worst in him. He always felt people were looking at him and he would get all in his head, all the negative beliefs he had would take over and he would get restless, his heartbeat would rise, he would often get off the train at this point and never reach his destination. He lost many job opportunities because of it. One day when he was on the train and started to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and self-conscious he put on some calming music, drank some water, and used one of the crisis mode skills. Next session he happily reported making it to his destination on time and feeling empowered that the anxiety did not take control over him. He reported that this transformed his life. He felt he could take the train anywhere because he had this skill, this ability to tune out the negative voices in his head and focus on his goal. He was ecstatic and it was contagious; I was so happy for him.

The number of clients I’ve worked with that report that the mindfulness or other coping skills that I’ve taught them has helped reduce their stress is at least 80%. The research shows how daily mindfulness practice increases brain functioning and improvement. See this link for more: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.

I have my own mindfulness practice and notice the difference when I’m on my game and reaching goals. As I stated earlier, this client’s life changed, which is why I do what I do — I want to help people feel better and reach their life goals. His life is more his own now than prior to having these skills.

In the almost 14 years I have been a practicing NY psychotherapist, I have seen how this changes people’s ability to ride the NYC subway and break down the barriers preventing them from reaching their goals. For as much as we dislike the NYC subway most of us find ourselves taking it wherever we are going and if we want to get to OUR destination we need all the skills we can learn.

Anxiety is real and can take over your life but we don’t have to let it!

Click here and learn more about how we can work together to decrease your anxiety and learn to cope with proven and effective anxiety reducing coping skills that will get you on the train to wherever you choose your destination to be.