As with everything in life, there are experiences within normal limits and outside of normal limits. Anxiety is no different, you may experience different anxiety levels.
Occasionally experiencing low anxiety levels is actually healthy because it plays an important role in keeping us safe. That gut feeling that danger is nearby when we’re walking alone on a dark street is an example of how anxiety is our friend and our protector.
However, it can turn on us very quickly and kick into high gear, even when there is no danger around.
Sometimes it feels overwhelming and all-consuming. It can keep us from concentrating on the task at hand or prevent us from engaging in social activities. That is anxiety outside of normal limits.
Constant worrying and nervousness
Obsessive thinking and over-analyzing
Consistent feelings of overwhelm
Difficulty paying attention or remembering things
Constant preoccupation about the future or the past
Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, feelings of weakness and fatigue
Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
Avoidance of triggering events
Much like with low self-esteem, it is so important to understand where your anxiety stems from. That will give us a foundation in which to start our treatment, which are primarily techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is one of the most widely used treatments to manage anxiety symptoms and one that I find to be the most successful in working with my clients. It includes identifying the factors and triggers that contribute to your anxiety and learning how to change thought patterns so as to reduce the anxiety.
I also utilize relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, and deep breathing exercises to help you gain better control over your anxious thoughts. The goal will never be to eliminate anxiety altogether because it really can be an effective tool in helping you make good, safe decisions, but we can definitely work together to help you develop a better relationship with it and keep it from overpowering your life.
You like driving yourself places so you have an easy escape route, should you need one. You scan your environment for triggers and start formulating your Plan B. You look for bathrooms, exit doors, and friendly faces.
You are too stuck in your own head during social interactions to enjoy the conversations. More often, though, you just don’t leave your home because it’s easier than facing all the “what ifs.” You feel angry for finding the mundane and basic aspects of life tedious and debilitating and you feel sad that you’re missing out on what other people take for granted.
You also probably feel hopeless, doubting that anything can ever change.