Is Anxiety Running Your Life?
Does it feel like you’re living in a constant state of uncertainty, not knowing how to relax and never feeling like things are okay? Are you exasperated with getting three things off your list, only to find that six others crept in? Do you often second-guess yourself and question if anything you do is ever good enough? Perhaps your mind races with incessant, looping thoughts, and you worry without reprieve about everything you need to get done. Maybe elevated stress and anxiety have begun to manifest physically through an accelerated heartbeat, tense muscles, shallow breathing, digestive problems or exhaustion. In addition, an inability to stay present may have started to impact relationships or productivity at work.
Do you constantly compare yourself to others, worrying that you will never catch up with them or be as confident? Maybe you feel like you are always on the “outside,” looking in on a world where things work out for everyone else except you. You may wonder if there is a secret that you’re unaware of, especially as you are already doing everything you can, and yet it seems that you “should have” done something different or something more. Do you constantly grapple with those nagging thoughts that you “have to,” “ought to,” “could and should have,” that make you doubt yourself? Perhaps you push yourself harder and harder hoping that punishing yourself into doing everything perfectly will finally get you the love, appreciation and acceptance that you yearn for.
Living with anxiety can be a deeply uncomfortable, frustrating, exhausting and even seemingly helpless experience. You might suffer with a persistent feeling that something is bound to go wrong soon if you don’t prevent it now, forcing you to spend a lot of time and energy trying to control the future. You may constantly imagine worst case scenarios and act them out in your mind, making them feel real. Perhaps you are in a constant state of vigilance, which takes you away from what is actually working or what has worked in the past. When life seems so unpredictable, you might double down on your strict rules about how you should act. While you strive for order and sense of stability, the rules are so rigid that you set yourself up for failure. The more you struggle for certainty and control, the less you have it, elevating your anxiety levels to unbearable heights. Feeling that you are always on edge may make it hard to stay present, engage in healthy relationships and enjoy a sense of well-being. Your inner self-critic may be relentless, forcing you to question your worthiness and over-analyze everything you have done, are doing and still need to do. You may have turned to substances, food or another temporary means of coping with uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and body sensations, but nothing seems to lend itself to any kind of sustainable relief. You may suffer bouts of depression as a reprieve from the exhausting anxiety.
Millions Of Americans Suffer From Anxiety
If you are struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues in the U.S., impacting more than 40 million Americans each year. While some level of stress is okay and can be a helpful source of energy to draw from in order to reach goals and meet deadlines, when it begins to impact your ability to function productively, stress has likely crossed over into anxiety.
Many of us were not raised by caregivers who accepted and soothed our fears when we needed it. We had to find ways to make ourselves feel safe by trying to predict and control the world around us. It was the only thing we could rely on because our parents didn’t seem to notice how scared we were and that we needed them to tune in and help us calm down and feel safe. Perhaps you were one of these children who had to do it yourself, alone and without loving support. Forced to depend on yourself likely created feelings of insecurity and compromised your sense of well-being. These insecure attachments developed in childhood often manifest themselves in our adult lives through anxiety. Some of us feel like we must be in control of situations and/or excel in everything we do in order to feel worthwhile. Others always anticipate the worst-case scenario, believing that everything is doomed to go wrong. You may experience separation anxiety, performance anxiety, social anxiety, relationship anxiety or a more diffuse type that pervades your whole life.
Regardless of how your anxiety is manifesting, the good news is that there is help and hope. Anxiety is the most commonly managed mental health issue. With the guidance and support of a therapist who is trained in treating anxiety, you can experience lasting relief and a new sense of ease.
Anxiety Treatment Can Help You Live An Empowered Life
Treatment for anxiety is extremely effective and helps you get to the root of the fear and panic that are triggering anxiety symptoms. Once you understand where they stem from and acknowledge your need for comfort, reassurance and safety, then those magic words, “everything will be all right,” will have truth and meaning for you. You can finally begin to build a more grounded, stable life and enjoy a more positive and lighter way of being.
In safe, confidential anxiety therapy sessions, I can help identify, explore and address the root cause(s) and triggers of your anxiety. As you build awareness around your past experiences and current triggers, I will help you stay grounded in the present moment. Even as we explore the past, you can feel that everything is safe as we’re in the office together in the present moment. We’ll work together at a pace that feels comfortable for you as you process feelings of uncertainty – then we develop strategies to cope with the specific triggers that set your anxiety off. I can help you gradually increase your sense of safety as you appreciate that you cannot control other people or the world out there. Rather, you can begin to see that you do have control over yourself and can choose how to perceive and respond to situations.
By working in the moment, I can help you build awareness around your anxiety and learn ways to let go of it as it arises in the office. We can role-play and hash out the experiences of worry and fear as you examine all the issues and situations that make you anxious and panicked. I will give you the vital experience of protection, safety, acceptance and care that your brain needs to develop new pathways for calming and soothing the anxiety and fear centers. You can dissolve the anxiety, build confidence and learn how to tune into, trust and synchronize your natural emotional and physical rhythms. If your anxiety builds up and a panic attack looms, we can use visualization and breathing exercise to help you stay grounded in sessions. After you have built up a reservoir of safety and stability with my care, we can explore ways for you to keep it going when you are on your own. Depending on what appeals to you, these strategies can include artistic endeavors, doing puzzles, mindfulness exercises, visualization and other more physical practices, such as tai chi and yoga.
No matter how severe your anxiety seems, you can reduce it to a blip in your emotional life if you allow me to give you the sense of security and self-soothing that you missed out on early in life. You can feel safe in the moment and see the world in a less threatening way. With help, support and an effective approach to treatment for anxiety, you can tolerate having less control, feel contented, relax, breathe and embrace all who you are.
You still may have questions or concerns about anxiety therapy…
Will an anxiety diagnosis mean that I’ll need to go on medication?
Medication can be useful in cases of severe anxiety to help you feel calm enough to make it to therapy. But, for most people, medication is not part of effective anxiety treatment. While medication can provide a quick fix, the drugs have serious side effects and alter the natural functioning of other bodily systems, like hormones, sleep cycles, appetite and mood. Withdrawal symptoms when you come off anxiety medications are a major form of disruption in your life. Therapy, however, gets to the root cause of your anxiety and provides you with the experience of soothing and care that your brain needs to react differently to perceived threats and dangers that make you anxious in your day-to-day-life.
I have been anxious my whole life. I fear that nothing—even therapy—can help me.
If you have been anxious for as long as you can remember, the idea of living without anxiety may feel impossible. Unfortunately, I cannot wave a magic wand and relieve you of all anxiety. However, I can give you what you need emotionally so that your mind and body can feel less threatened and you can reduce the need to control everything as a way of feeling safe. By learning to rely on the security of our relationship as the base from which you manage life, you can face life’s challenges with greater confidence and ease.
I’m worried that talking about my anxiety will make me feel even worse.
As much as you may want to avoid your anxiety, not addressing it and its underlying causes will likely only make it grow worse. Anxiety at its worst leads to panic attacks and obsessive and compulsive ways of thinking and acting that seriously impair your ability to live fully in the world at large. You can become withdrawn, curtailing your social life, disrupting family relationships and making you less productive and efficient at work.
And, keeping stress and anxiety locked inside you causes physical problems, such as heart disease, as well as mental and emotional ones. While the thought of talking about your anxiety may be causing more anxiety, many of my clients say that their initial fears about therapy were much worse in their minds than in the actual experience. In sessions, as we get present in the moment, you will learn that you are safe. You may also notice that, as therapy continues and you start addressing your anxiety, symptoms begin to subside. Addressing what is causing you pain truly can alleviate it.
You Can Live An Empowered, Balanced, Peaceful Life
I invite you to take the next step and call my office at 310-985-2491 to schedule an initial appointment. I offer worldwide coaching via telehealth services, and psychotherapy in California. Your happiness and health are well worth investing in.