Updated: Mar 20, 2021
Do any of these statements sound like you?
You replay conversations over and over and chastise yourself for things you’ve said to people.
Your brain always jumps to “worst case scenarios.”
You second-guess your decisions all throughout the day.
You are too stuck in your own head during social interactions to enjoy the conversations.
You stay home and miss out on fun events because it’s easier than facing all the possible triggers.
If you do motivate to go out and be social, you prefer driving yourself so you have an easy escape route, should you need one.
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.
As with everything in life, there are experiences within normal limits and outside normal limits. Anxiety is no different –you can experience different anxiety levels throughout your life.
In certain circumstances, anxiety 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 anxiety serving as our friend and protector.
But it can turn on us very quickly and kick into high gear, even when there is no danger around.
Sometimes anxiety feels overwhelming and all-consuming, and can keep us from concentrating on the task at hand or prevent us from engaging in social activities. That is anxiety outside 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
• Sleep disturbances
• Avoidance of triggering events
Like most issues in your life, it’s so important to understand where your anxiety stems from. That will give you a foundation from which to start your treatment, which will most likely utilize techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is one of the most widely used treatments to manage anxiety symptoms and one that I have personally found to be the most successful for my clients. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves identifying the factors and triggers that contribute to your anxiety and learning how to change thought patterns so as to reduce the anxiety.
Utilizing relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, and deep breathing exercises also 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 understanding anxiety will help you develop a better relationship with it and keep it from overpowering your life.