Is Your Anxiety Keeping You From Being In Your Life?
Are you often pulled into the fast-paced loop of anxious thoughts and sensations? Does your anxiety disrupt your activities and derail your mood? Do you wish you could get out of your struggle with anxiety and be able to approach your day with more ease?
The Toll Of Anxiety
Living with this disordered and disruptive anxiety… well, it’s exhausting. Trying to keep up with the urgency that anxiety creates can lead to feeling like you are always “on,” being restless and without peace, and living with a sense of impending doom. It can keep you riled up in thinking and rethinking about a problem or replaying and analyzing previous conversations. Anxiety leads to endless “what if?” questions without answers. It is tied into chronic body tension from patterns of bracing and preparing for possible dangers, and it puts roadblocks between you and what you want to approach in your life.
Anxiety can show up in a number of patterns. Some people can be more worried than others and view the world through a lens of anxiety, whereas others have anxiety show up in social situations or in a specific instance (such as a fear of heights). Some have acute periods of intense anxious and catastrophizing thoughts linked to overwhelming body sensations called “panic attacks.” Others will experience an increase in anxiety from going through life transitions, even if they feel positive about the transitions (like moving to a new city or going to graduate school).
Anxiety is a common experience, and can be there for a reason—to alert us where we need to put our attention and when to respond to stressors. For example, anxiety is helpful when it motivates us to study for a test, prepare for a work presentation, or even let us know when we feel uneasy about a person or situation. But when anxiety gets to be too big, it is an overwhelming force, causing disruptive patterns that lead to distress.
Changing Your Relationship To Anxiety With Counseling
You have most likely struggled with anxiety for some time and wished you could “just relax” or that things would get better with time. While you may not be able to just think your way through anxiety, there are ways to improve your relationship with, and lessen the impact of, that anxiety.
The main goal in making changes around anxiety often seems paradoxical and puzzling, but it highlights the differences between what works and what does not. It does not help to say or hear “don’t worry” or to judge yourself for having the anxiety. It does not help to simply avoid situations that cause anxiety, or to use substances to alleviate the feeling. All of these behaviors increase the struggle with anxiety or lead to a temporary false security that comes with avoiding your concerns.
Simply put, the goal in working with anxiety is to walk through it instead of fighting it or fleeing from it. This approach is effective long-term and builds resilience while deflating the perceived danger. To achieve this, you can use tools and patterns to bring anxiety into a more manageable range. This will involve addressing the connections of your sensations, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. You may need to make changes to your internal and external lifestyle to not “feed” the anxiety. You can create a more balanced and moderate relationship with anxiety, and anxiety counseling is a step to figuring out what works and what will serve you as you make this change.
You may be interested in counseling for anxiety, but you have a few questions or concerns…
My anxiety takes enough of my time and energy already. Will talking about my anxiety really help?
It is understandable to wonder how talking about anxiety in counseling will be different than what you are already doing. You may have talked with friends, family, or other healthcare professionals before and felt more anxious… or even alone, if they didn’t respond with empathy. In counseling for anxiety, you will talk about your anxiety in a different way than you have before. The point of anxiety therapy is not to rehash and follow your anxious patterns—it is to explore underlying core beliefs, learn new ways to approach your anxiety, and develop new patterns that lead to effective actions instead of rumination and increasing anxiety.
If I have an anxiety disorder, will I need to take medication?
Medication can be one tool for treating anxiety, but it is not appropriate for everyone. For clients with milder anxiety or who have anxiety due to a temporary life stressor, counseling, relaxation skills, and lifestyle changes may be much more appropriate than medication.
Having an anxiety disorder does not necessarily mean that you have to be on medication for the rest of your life. Some of my clients may use a medication for certain situations (such as when they have a panic attack). Others may be on medication while lifestyle changes are being made and they are in counseling for anxiety, and then will discuss discontinuing medication with their prescribing physician and myself.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I cannot prescribe medication, but there are times when I may bring up starting medication with my clients. In doing so, I am seeking to provide them with more options to improve their distress and help them meet their treatment goals. I may recommend consulting with their primary care physician or psychiatrist about medication if they are having significant difficulty with meeting obligations, are experiencing high distress, or are unable to make progress in therapy due to the anxiety. It would then be your choice to decide whether or not you want to see a prescribing physician and take medication.
To get through my anxiety, I am worried that I will have to give up the ways that I have coped and will feel out of control.
In facing anxiety so far, you have had to find ways to cope. I believe in starting therapy by building up tools, skills, and knowledge that will help you get some relief and mastery when you experience anxiety. We will sift through how you have managed so far and look for ways that you have coped that have helped you.
On the other hand, some of the ways you have learned to cope may have included denying, self-medicating, or avoiding, and these will not serve you long-term. Here, we will work together to build new skills and ways of interacting with your anxiety. It can definitely feel challenging to make these changes… but it can also feel empowering and relieving to know that you are making progress in treating your anxiety. I believe in a balance of support with challenge and that we need to move at a pace that will not be so challenging that it is overwhelming.
Why should I choose to see you for anxiety counseling?
This is a great question. There are several reasons to contact me about anxiety therapy:
I have over 10 years of experience in providing anxiety treatment to clients in a variety of clinical settings.
I draw from a number of approaches and techniques in counseling. While I utilize cognitive behavioral approaches, I believe that treatment for anxiety is most effective when it incorporates the mind–body connection, and so I utilize my training from Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, and yoga. I provide these services so that my clients can recognize and respond to the urges of anxiety effectively and with more ease.
As a Registered Yoga Teacher, I have skills in another modality for creating regulation in the body. Even if we don’t do yoga postures in our work, I can incorporate breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and yogic philosophy. Learn more about yoga and counseling here.
My clients have given me feedback that I can balance being direct and interactive in session with being supportive and validating.
Please contact me today so that we can work together to shift your relationship to your anxiety.
To learn about what to do to during a panic attack or to moderate anxiety, check out these blog posts.