Do you struggle with unpleasant thoughts or worries about the future, whether they feel rational or not? Are most nights spent tossing and turning while your mind races, when all you want to do is fall asleep? Have you found yourself avoiding situations because you fear what others might think about you? Do you have some difficulty “shutting off” your brain as it races through plans and contingencies in order to avoid feeling a lack of situational control? Have you spent excessive amounts of time checking and rechecking your work in order to be certain everything is completed just perfectly?
Many of us have periods of worry in our lives, and those who experience a greater degree of excessive or intense worry might be familiar with the term “anxiety”. Anxiety is often described as feeling overwhelmed by the inability to control or avoid a potential threat, whether it is real or perceived as real. Some common symptoms of anxiety include restlessness or irritability, difficult concentrating or focusing, muscle tension or soreness, headaches, pounding heart, fatigue, or trouble falling or staying asleep. Some folks have digestive difficulties, diarrhea, or sweat a lot. At best, you may feel energized and that your anxiety somehow propels you to accomplish a great deal and impeccably so. At worst, intense fears or distress may keep you from valuable social connections, increase difficulty in carrying out day to day activities, cause significant sleep loss, and ultimately impede your ability to participate in a rich, meaningful life.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the US., with about 18% of the adult population experiencing an anxiety disorder (NAMI, 2019). If left untreated, individuals may risk major chronic health conditions as distress and lack of quality sleep can impact important physiological systems. Our modern society unfortunately encourages perfection and rewards ever busier lifestyles; worries about keeping up and having (or being!) enough can greatly impact our anxiety level. I see many clients with anxiety, and it is increasingly common for individuals to seek treatment because of work or school stress, fears about not being able to “do it all” with respect to all the demands of our modern lives, and or even anxiety surrounding the illness of oneself or a loved one.
When working with clients who have anxiety, we typically start from a place where I get to know your current experience so we can collaborate on the best treatment according to your strengths (even if it doesn’t feel like it, you have unique, innate gifts that will help your journey!). My clinical orientation is grounded in theory that supports the subconscious aspects of your experience, such as where you might feel an emotion within your body because of a perceived sense of threat or of safety, and how you may or may not interpret those signals through thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. A session might involve a mindfulness exercise to get in touch with the embodied experience, and to help create some space and acceptance of difficult feelings or thoughts as we begin to manage distress. We may also explore unresolved feelings of guilt or shame from the past that might be influencing your mood in the present. We might challenge unhelpful thoughts and learn strategies to reframe negative beliefs, introduce self-compassion, and further improve your life experience while living with anxiety. Ultimately, you will establish your goals for therapy, and, together, we will integrate the best, evidence-based techniques to help you manage anxiety while moving in the direction of a valued and more vital life. While change may not happen overnight and you may experience some distress while leaning into-rather than avoiding-difficult thoughts or feelings, my clients often report feeling incremental improvements soon after we begin our work together. These improvements might look like improved sleep quality, more energy, greater life balance, less personal pressure to excel, or small activities that move them toward greater social connection and safety. Longer term, clients begin to participate in life more fully, live with awareness of the joy and experience of the present moment, and complete therapeutic goals that align with what is meaningful and valuable to them.
- If you are experiencing an emergency or are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call 9-1-1 or The Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 for help.
- If you are interested in learning more about treatment sessions, please click here. If you are feeling ready to take the first step toward the quality of life that you deserve, please contact Fresh Air Counseling today and we can schedule a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to discuss your experience and help determine if we are the right fit to meet you where you are.
- If you are feeling some anxiety or distress, but not quite ready to pursue professional treatment, here are a few resources that might help: