Anxiety can keep you from living your life to the fullest. Intense feelings of fear and worry can drive you to avoidance, prompting you to walk away from career opportunities, new friendships, or new experiences you might have loved. But you have to deal with the anxiety somehow.
Anxiety isn’t dangerous, but it can create problems. Leave anxiety untreated for too long, and your life becomes small. You end up on the outside looking in, staring at the life you really want with no concept of how to get there.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Everyone experiences anxiety differently, but there are some common themes. Here’s what anxiety might feel like or sound like.
“I just had this feeling something awful was going to happen.”
Many people who suffer from anxiety are overwhelmed with a feeling that they lack control over their life. They’re surrounded by dangers they feel they can’t predict or stop.
Symptoms could include excessive worry, sleep disturbances, or difficulty concentrating. You may feel irritable, even if you can’t identify a reason why. You also may experience physical pain in the form of muscle tension.
“I just get gripped by this sense of panic.”
Some anxiety episodes are triggered by specific things, like phobias. Other times people wind up feeling as though these thoughts and feelings have come out of nowhere.
You may feel uncertain about your future, to the point where you can’t summon up any optimism about it. And for many people with anxiety, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It can be hard to craft the life you want when you’re too nervous to perform at work or school, or too uneasy to seize opportunities which may come your way.
“My thoughts just kept going, and going, and going about how all these bad things were going to happen.”
Racing thoughts are another hallmark of anxiety. And, again, there’s an element of self-fulfilling prophecy at work.
Fast, adrenaline-fueled thoughts and feelings can be helpful in a life-or-death situation, but they can keep you from making good decisions, or any decisions at all.
“I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”
Many people with anxiety suffer from attacks called anxiety attacks, or panic attacks. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, trembling or shaking, sweating, or a pins-and-needles sensation. You may also experience stomach pains and nausea, dizziness, or a feeling of faintness.
Some people even feel chest pain and think they may be having a heart attack, or dying.
It’s easy to see how such sensations could stop you in your tracks. It’s a frightening experience, and in time avoiding repeats of the attack seems to take over your whole life.
Everyone gets stressed or worried from time to time. So how do you know when your anxiety is a big enough problem to warrant seeking help?
First, if you’ve been experiencing panic attacks you already need help. A panic attack should tell you that your anxiety levels are already raging beyond what you are likely to be able to handle on your own.
But if you’re dealing with a less obvious form of anxiety, start by thinking about how long you’ve been feeling like this. You might even keep a journal to mark which days you feel anxious. If you feel more anxious than not more days than not for several months, it may be time to seek help.
It’s also important to look at the strength of the anxiety, and how it’s already impacting your life. If you feel like your life is negatively impacted by your anxiety, then it’s never too early (or too late) to get some help.
When we’re working with anxiety, it’s my job to equip you with strategies you can use when you’re plagued with anxious thoughts. It’s also my job to teach you how to release pent-up anxiety that’s still locked up in your body.
The specific therapy will depend on the type of anxiety you have. If you have a phobia, or traumatic memories, I might use a technique called EMDR. If you’re plagued with irritability or anger, I would use a body-based self-regulation technique to help siphon this energy away. And sometimes I’ll help you get at the root of your anxiety, so you can understand it and manage it.
Sometimes we may try two or three methods to find out what works best for you, but my goal is to help you find relief as quickly as possible.
Got questions? Want to explore how I can help you in a bit more detail?
Call (604) 724-4255, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.