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Don't let your anxiety make your decisions for you.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense, or afraid. Often about the future, or something we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural response when we feel that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.
We all experience worry, stress and anxiety. It is a normal response to stress or threat. Just because you experience anxiety does not mean you have an anxiety disorder. We all have a "fight/flight/freeze" system that helps protect us from danger in the environment. This system is often triggered by our thoughts as well. This part of our nervous system reacts automatically. It is not a choice. Often, when people feel these physical sensations they worry that they have an anxiety disorder. Likely, they can manage this anxiety by learning a few simple tools to regulate their nervous system, like managing their thoughts, taking deep breaths, or grounding themselves to the present moment. Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. If this is happening, reaching out to a therapist is a good idea.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Common symptoms associated with anxiety are:
your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy
you have physical symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, fatigue, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat
How do we treat anxiety?
We help people with anxiety by teaching them tools to calm their nervous system, and help them resolve underlying fears and situations that may be contributing to their anxiety. If anxiety can be linked back to trauma or childhood abuse or neglect, EMDR and Ego state therapies may also be useful.
Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Some people have anxiety that is very physical. They may not be aware of conscious thoughts that contribute to their anxiety. This can be very scary for people, and often leads to panic and concern that there is something physically wrong with them. This can cause a "spiral" effect that just makes the anxiety worse. These clients benefit from somatic awareness, mindfulness practices, and being educated about what is actually taking place in their bodies. We practice these tools and eventually, the calming responses become more automatic.
Others experience anxiety more cognitively, it is their thoughts that cause them to feel anxiety. For these clients we are more likely to use CBT in order to help them become aware of, challenge, and replace irrational thoughts that do not help their anxiety. Often once people are able to put words to these feelings, and become aware of their "irrational" beliefs, they are able to feel more in control of their anxiety.
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