We all experience stress and anxiety sometimes. It’s part of being human. Other times, anxiety can morph into something so big that it makes it hard to keep it together on a daily basis. You are working really hard to be okay, but the stress and feelings of overwhelm are just unrelenting. Your thoughts are racing, your chest physically hurts, and you feel like everything is getting to be too much to handle. You may also be experiencing panic attacks that have led you to question if you can even trust your own body anymore. Stress and anxiety can leave you feeling helpless out and out control, and you’re here because you’re ready to take that control back.
Where did my anxiety come from in the first place?
There are a few common factors across people who experience high anxiety. Some people are born with a genetic predisposition to experiencing higher levels of anxiety. Growing up, you may have also seen your parents worry a lot, and you learned that this was how to keep bad things from happening. You could have also experienced painful events in life that led you to feel chronically anxious, fearful, and even panicked.
Regardless of what is causing your anxiety, people who have anxiety feel tightly wound, tense, and are constantly worrying. You toss and turn at night with worrisome thoughts about all of the bad things that could happen. It’s like a bad movie that keeps playing in your mind. Feeling this way can make life really hard. You appear to be just like your peers or coworkers on the outside; but on the inside, you’re suffering. Anxiety is a silent battle that can be overwhelming and isolating.
Is it ALL bad?
There’s no doubt that anxiety makes life hard- but it has also helped you in some ways. You are hardworking, motivated, and resilient. A bit of stress can be positive in that it pushes you toward your goals.
Your anxiety also gives you a unique lens through which you view the world. Anxious people have heightened awareness. You’re are quite attuned to others, and you may even describe yourself as an “empath.” You have a big heart for others and are a place of refuge for friends who need someone to lend an ear.
There are desirable and undesirable aspects of your experience with anxiety. This sensitive part of you is not to be extricated or done away with; rather, we want to gain some control over this energy and harness it to your benefit so that it can propel you forward, rather than getting in your way.
How can therapy help me feel better?
Treatment for anxiety involves mental health, physical health, and daily habits to promote more calm and less stress.
Let’s start by taking a look at what keeps you up at night. First, we get to know your worry thoughts better and understand what’s going on in your mind. You have some thoughts running in the background everyday that shape your experience- thoughts that you are not even fully aware of. People usually don’t realize the impact these thoughts are having until they have the chance to pause and explore in therapy.
Here are some common fears and worries I hear about:
- Measuring up, being “enough,” or people-pleasing
- Needing to know for certain that nothing bad will happen
- Social anxiety at school, work, or at big family gatherings
- Illness or becoming sick
- Schoolwork or keeping up with job responsibilities
- Intrusive thoughts that make no sense to you, but you can’t seem to get out of your head
- Making decisions about the future
- Fear of having a panic attack
Once we have a good handle on the root causes of your anxiety and you’ve acquired some resources about what’s going on in your mind and body, we can start to implement some specific strategies and coping skills that help reduce the tendency to worry (the fancy term for this is “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”).
Another integral part of healing from anxiety involves practicing mindfulness, or being present for what’s right in front of you, rather than living in the past or future. All you have to do is pick up a magazine and you’ll probably find an article about mindfulness and how it can improve all aspects of your life.
A regular mindfulness practice is proven to reduce stress, increase positive emotions, improve focus, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness does not have to mean that you have to meditate and chant “OM” – it’s actually far simpler and less “woo woo” than that. It’s also easy to integrate into the things you already do every day. I’m here as your coach and guide to teach you how to develop this into a skill that can help you tremendously on your path to freeing yourself from the grip of anxiety.
Physical Health & Daily Habits
We are living in an exciting time where we are learning a ton about how the mind and body are connected, and how focusing on how physical health can impact mental health. What you eat, how much sleep you get, how much you exercise, how much water you drink, how much time you spend on a screen, and how much time you rest- ALL of these things play into how your anxiety manifests.
There are many holistic strategies to improve mental health: Meditation, nutrition, hiking, yoga, acupuncture, massage, chiropractor, etc. You name it, I’ve probably tried it! While I am not an expert in all of these disciplines, part of my job is to connect you to other professionals who can help support all aspects of your health. What helps your mind and body feel better will be unique from what helps someone else, so learning about how to best take care of yourself is an individualized experience. We can also spend time making a plan for organizing your daily habits to best support your mental health.
“And then I realized:Anonymous
to be more alive,
I had to be less afraid.
So I did it.
I lost my fear,
and gained my whole life.”