Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time when facing challenging situations. However, when anxiety hangs around too long it becomes a disorder and feels like an uninvited guest that wreaks havoc in your life.
If you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder, even the most mundane tasks can feel threatening and generate panic. You might notice intense feelings of distress in social situations, or while going out in public, driving, doing your job, or making decisions. Many people describe their thoughts moving at a million miles per hour, taunting them with frightening scenarios that are unlikely to happen but are alarming nonetheless.
In moderation, anxiety is a perfectly normal and useful emotion. It surfaces when the brain senses danger and sends signals to the body to move quickly to safety. It can help you stay alert and focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. Anxiety is why you buckle your seatbelt, save your money, and lock your doors at night. Without it, humans would not have been able to survive as long as we have.
It only becomes a problem when the brain perceives danger where it doesn’t exist, and the frequency and intensity of the symptoms interfere with people’s daily activities or relationships.
Here’s a list of common symptoms of anxiety:
- Overwhelming feelings of apprehension or dread
- Irrational, excessive fear and worry
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling tense or jumpy
- Racing heart
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty eating or sleeping
Dealing with anxiety day in and day out can be a burden. Take a moment to imagine a life on your own terms, not the ones dictated by your anxious thoughts.
What would you do with your life if you were free of anxiety? Would you take more risks in your career, like acting on that new business idea, recommending yourself for a promotion, or asking for a raise? How might your personal life change if you weren’t coming from a place of fear?
Many people report that their relationships start to flourish as their anxiety begins settling, because they are better able to live in the present and see the good around them that they missed before.
It’s often said that knowledge is power. The first step to alleviating anxiety with counseling is by understanding exactly how the anxiety is showing up in your life. After you’ve identified all of the symptoms and their corresponding triggers, you’ll learn some different cognitive techniques to teach you how to be objective with your thoughts. Objectivity will allow you to observe your thoughts instead of accepting them as truths.
After the objectivity stage, you’ll learn how to evaluate your thoughts for accuracy. Too often, the distressing thoughts that anxious brains repetitively produce are misperceptions, and correcting them produces noticeable relief. With time and practice, you’ll notice you won’t have to spend as much time analyzing your thoughts, because they will have become more balanced. Many people say they notice a sense of clarity and confidence where there was once confusion and fear.
As each area of life improves, there will be a chain reaction of relief. It’s difficult to fathom how profound this relief is until you’re on the other side. All of this and more is possible with the right kind of help. It can be so freeing to get out of your head and have an objective person hear your story and guide you through difficulty.
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