Although anxiety is a normal emotion, to most of us it is really unpleasant. No one enjoys feeling anxious but it serves a purpose. Anxiety is an emotion that propels us to plan, get things done, and worry about ourselves and those we care about so that we can avoid danger and harm. Anxiety in and of itself isn’t bad, it’s when we don’t have balance that it gets out of control and becomes a problem.
The #1 symptom of anxiety that I see is avoidance. When you find yourself trying to avoid dealing with a problem, thinking about a problem, avoiding places, people, or things that might cause anxiety, then anxiety starts to get in the way of dealing with your life. This is when anxiety tips the scale to becoming an “anxiety disorder,” and worry feels out of control.
I will say again and again…
ANXIETY CAN BE MANAGED!
Life can be better. You can feel more relaxed. Find a mental health professional and WORK on it! Changing is hard work but it is POSSIBLE!
Anxiety lives in your brain and in your body. The first step is to NOTICE where you feel anxiety in your body. Do you notice:
- Muscle tension – where? in what part of your body?
- Headaches- where is the pain located? is this headache different than other types of headaches?
- Stomach aches or other GI discomfort
- Heart racing
- Sweaty palms
Second, what do you notice in your thoughts? When you are anxious, what are you thinking? Are you:
- Catastrophizing – imagining the worst case scenario as the only option
- Ruminating – thinking of all the worst things over and over where it gets worse the more you think about it
- Projecting – imagine how you are feeling and then tell the other person they intended to make you feel that way
- Using unhelpful thinking – any worry that runs through your head that is out of your control and you can’t do anything about
- Intense irritation and annoyance
- Beating up on yourself
Keep track of these symptoms and discuss them with your therapist to start working on managing anxiety today!