We all experience anxiety in life, some anxiety is healthy and normal like when we are experiencing something new or different (going on an interview, waiting on a phone call about a medical result, going on a new adventure, moving, etc). However, when anxiety becomes unmanageable, it can affect and interfere with all aspects of your life: work, school, relationships, hobbies, etc.
Anxiety becomes a problem when you get stuck in this constant state of worry and overthinking (either fixated on the past or future). If left untreated, it typically increases over time and gets worse (like pressure building in a volcano, eventually it will explode).
What is Anxiety?
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), some symptoms of anxiety are:
- Excessive anxiety and worry about different things or situations (work, family, home, school)
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Tense muscles
- Difficulty sleeping, falling asleep, staying asleep, restlessness
What does anxiety feel like and look like?
- Racing thoughts and you can’t seem to slow down
- Struggle to focus and concentrate
- Always on the edge of either what feels like exploding or imploding
- Constantly worried about something
- Catastrophizing (thinking the worst thing is going to happen or making the worst out of something that already happened)
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling guilt or shame about the past, being unable to let small things go
- Replaying something you did or said on an endless loop
- Even though you try to stay calm and breathe, it doesn’t help, nothing helps
Anxiety often manifests physically. It may look like:
- Racing or pounding heart
- Clammy hands
- Sweating all the time
- Stomach in knots or in pain
- Feeling nauseous, dizzy, or sick
- Muscle tension
It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way!
Anxiety does not control you, you are not your anxiety. You can learn to be fully present and not be consumed by endless thoughts about the future or the past.
In therapy, some things you can learn to decrease anxiety are:
- How to ground yourself
- Use breathing techniques to feel calmer
- Learn the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
- Meditations to increase calm and relaxation response
- Be more present and mindful
- Learn how to deal with a busy mind and anxiety-based thoughts
- Process your anxiety and origins of anxiety
Let’s discuss how you can learn to stop being stuck in an endless loop and take control over your thoughts, feel empowered, and experience more moments of calm in your life.