Many people have come to see me with severe anxiety challenges feeling this way. If you have considered medicating, you’re not alone and here are a few things to consider.
First…Anxiety is not bad, yet the affects of prolonged anxiety are, and there is a big difference!
Modern medicine, even with its vast advancements toward holistic practices, is still guilty of easing the symptoms, yet not offering the cure. Our bodies tell us everything in whispers, but our minds communicate in screams.
So when your body is feeling anxious it’s asking you to deal with the underlying cause, to get present and go deeper. Your mind is the primal part of you that has one job: keep the body alive. So when the body is in pain, it sends one of three responses:
Anxiety is an adaptive process that is critical for our survival. Anxiety warns us of potential danger, to slow down and pay attention to threats both internal and external. When you’re mindful, you can check-in and ask from a clear state, “What is happening to me?” Breathing calmly, you can signal your brain to lower its stimulus and make a logical assessment and even correction.
But this isn’t what most of us do. In fear, we react; some may say we freak out. And when we freak out consistently, the anxiety becomes acute, uncontrollable or chronic, causing massive disruption in our patterns and interference with our lives.
That is when seeking professional treatment is key.
Here’s a list of the obvious and not-so-obvious signs that it’s time to get treatment.
- You have an intolerance for uncertainty and an intolerance for feeling anxious.You can’t leave your house because you fear losing control and panicking so you live in a highly restricted comfort zone.
- You’ve lost your personal right to have a voice and don’t express your personal preferences and make clear boundaries. You’re used often or taken advantage of, and you deal with it rather than making it right.
- You experience physical sensations of anxiety such as shortness of breath, shaking, heart palpitations, cold and hot flashes. You have panic attacks that literally shut you down.
- You have a restrictive phobia such as fear of heights, flying or something else where you feel helpless.
- You can’t stop worrying. Always waiting for the shoe to drop, looking for the impending doom and it lasts for hours, often disrupting sleep patterns and creating muscle tension and loss of concentration.
- Your anxiety prevents you from engaging activities, whether they be academic, occupation or social without great unease. You are highly ritualistic about where you eat, drive, or activities you will and won’t do.
- You have safety behaviors to temporarily relieve your anxiety. Avoid eye contact, social situations, constantly check your cell phone, plan out your driving routes and have endless lists of to-dos so everything is in order. Friends think you’re controlling.
- You’re incredibly self-conscious for fear of being rejected or made a fool of.
- You regularly worry about the future; ruminate about past mistakes; and dread having to meet daily challenges. Everything is a burden. You sigh a lot.
- You make problems out of everything, no matter how small. There is always a worse case scenario and it’s exaggerated to the nth degree.
- You’re risk intolerant. Safe job, safe mate, safe life…still don’t feel safe.
If you’re experiencing these signs, you might be wondering what to do next.
- Start with acceptance. You are not the definition of anxiety. It’s not personal, there is no fault or blame, it simply exists. As the ole saying goes, “What you resist, persists.” Get present, breathe it out and accept yourself completely in this moment.
- Become Mindful. Slowing down and getting conscious to daily life is powerful. It’s called Mindfulness and you can real all about it here in this blog post along with a video introducing you to how to do it.
- Begin a Meditation Practice: It’s a practice, not an achievement or goal. Meditation is to tap into the deeper truth held within you and calm the over-active mind.
- Get the Nutrition your body needs. Literally, you are what you eat. The effects of nutrition on the body is paramount to waking up the mind and sustaining life. Whether you follow one particular tribe such as Vegan or Paleo is less important as practicing mindful eating habits that get the body the nutrition it needs and limit the fast food, alcohol and sugar addictions that culture makes us crave.
- Get into nature. We as a species have grown apart from nature. The elements of water, metal, earth, fire and wind are all of mother nature’s forces used to create global change to land masses. The power they carry is strong and connecting to that raw power can have amazing effects in our ability to surrender.
- Support Groups. The ego has one message: You’re the only one with this problem and you’re all alone!” Not true. Getting in a safe support group that will allow you to share and connect with others is a great way to relax and realize you’re not in a defeated battle of solitude.
- Talk to a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the gold standard for a broad range of different anxieties and co-existing conditions as an evidence-based method that helps people overcome anxiety thinking, tolerate unpleasant anxiety sensations, and engage in problem-related corrective behaviors.
- Try a cognitive-behavioral workbook on anxiety:.That’s right, it is time to do the actual work. Most, if not all, anxiety comes from something in the past that is purging its way to the top. If you had a splinter under your skin, it’s doubtful it would just remain there forever. Rather, the skin would blister and eventually the body would naturally eradicate the foreign substance to the surface. Our minds, our emotions are no different as we constantly heal, grow and become brighter versions of ourselves.
- Practice self-care. “Daily life is filled with stresses and strains, and they add to what psychologist Bruce McEwen calls the allostatic load factor, or wearing and tearing the body with stress,” These wearing and tearing effects can perpetuate a vicious cycle of increased vulnerability to stress and more anxiety. There are many things you can do to reduce the load, he said, including: getting adequate sleep and exercise; avoiding smoking and drinking excessively; and healthfully navigating negative emotions.
Experiencing excessive anxiety can feel scary, uncomfortable and confusing. The good news is anxiety is highly treatable. Those who want to get better, do.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, seek professional help for proper evaluation. I’m here for questions so please reach out to me at Info@NoelMcDermott.net
~Noel McDermott: psychotherapy and consultancy Ltd