What to do about Anxiety

Where did my anxiety even come from in the first place?

There are a lot of reasons that you might be anxious. Some people are born with a genetic predisposition to experiencing higher levels of anxiety. Maybe growing up, you saw your parents worry a lot, and through this you learned that you need to worry to avoid bad things from happening. You could have also had some painful events happen in your life that have left an emotional scar that remains unhealed. Or, maybe you’re like many other young people out there who are feeling pressure from comparison on social media. There are a million and one reasons to feel anxious.

Regardless of what is causing your anxiety, people who have anxiety usually 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 most likely helped you in some ways. Anxious people are often really hard working, motivated, and resilient. A bit of stress can be positive in that it pushes us toward our goals.

Your anxiety also gives you a unique lens through which you view the world. Anxious people have heightened awareness. You’re most likely quite attuned to others, and you may even describe yourself as an “empath.” You have a big heart for others and are often 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.

Mental Health

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 may have some thoughts running in the background everyday that shape your experience- thoughts that you might not even be fully aware of! People usually don’t realize the impact these thoughts are having until they have the chance to pause and explore in the therapy room. Shining a light on these thoughts is the first step to taking some power back. Once we identify what’s making you anxious, we can start to unpack those things in therapy and help you move toward a place of feeling less stress and more calm.

We can also start to implement some specific strategies and coping skills that help reduce the tendency to worry. Most of these skills involve practicing mindfulness, or being present for what’s right in front of you, rather than living in the past or future. A regular mindfulness practice is proven to reduce stress, increase positive emotions, and help you live your life in a calm, centered manner, rather than feeling on-edge and reactive. Mindfulness does not have to mean that you have to meditate and chant “OM” – there is so much more to it, and it’s 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.

I know what it’s like to be in the trenches with anxiety running the show, because I’ve been there. Meditation, nutrition, hiking, yoga, you name it- I’ve 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:
to be more alive,
I had to be less afraid.
So I did it.
I lost my fear,
and gained my whole life.”

Anonymous

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