Anxiety

Anxiety is something we all experience from time-to-time, and it is a normal part of our existence.  To get butterflies in your stomach before a big presentation, feel somewhat jittery before a job interview, or find that you’re nervous before a first date are all completely normal responses to events we usually deem important, exciting, or valuable.  Remember: it is “normal” to want for things to go well!

Anxiety can become detrimental and maladaptive to our well-being, though, when we notice it exerting dominance in our lives.  We may then find it difficult to function in our work, home, and personal spheres.  Anxiety can be manifested by both physical and cognitive symptoms, including, but not limited to:

 

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS      COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS

-Rapid heartbeat         -Racing negative thoughts

-Dizziness                    -Catastrophic thinking

-Sweating                    -Obsessive thoughts

 

Anxiety often occurs as a result of a triggered response to what we anticipate as being a potentially fearful experience.  We may find ourselves getting caught up in negative thought cycles that can easily take us deep down the rabbit hole, making it difficult for us to stay present and grounded in reality.  “Fantasy” thinking and ruminating about “what if” can very quickly take you out of the present moment, moving you away from your reality-based state.  When a cycle of excessive worry happens, you may be unknowingly creating a worry-filled reality, where patterns of self-fulfilling prophecies and self-sabotage can sometimes be the end result.  Taking a lengthy pause to evaluate what is actually happening in the moment is useful; of course, this action is much easier said than done.  If anxiety is an area within which you find yourself struggling, therapy can be a helpful, insightful, and empowering experience for you.  

No two people experience anxiety in the exact same ways, and therefore no two therapeutic approaches will look alike.  I often use a blend of mindfulness-based approaches and elements of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in helping my clients deal with anxiety.  The goal is to help you regain control of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a positive and healthy way.  I often provide psychoeducation to my clients about anxiety management, including how to cope with its manifestations in a productive fashion.  

It is also noteworthy to mention that anxiety is a fleeting experience.  It might feel like it will last forever, but it is a temporary state:  it comes and it goes, just like the whole range of our emotional experiences.  Just as we are not always happy, sad, or angry as constant states of being, we are not always anxious, either.  Because anxiety is a very uncomfortable emotional state to tolerate, though, it can feel as if it will last forever.  Considering a macro-level perspective in this regard can be a helpful reframing technique.  When it comes to overcoming anxiety, it is important to be honest with ourselves in evaluating our experiences, which can truly help us form new and healthy patterns over time.  

If you find that your anxiety symptoms are increasing in frequency, intensity, and duration, speaking to a mental health professional about your concerns can be a great and productive first step.

 

Interested to learn more?  Here is one of my recent articles about Fear in The Huffington Post.

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