Anxiety is something that we all experience to some degree. Even the most cool, calm and collected individual can get a case of the nerves before a big presentation at work or a sensitive personal conversation they’ve been avoiding. But for some people, anxiety is a regular part of life. Seemingly small things such as getting out the door on time, daily work assignments, or casual social interactions can be psychologically and emotionally distressing. A person with anxiety may get sucked into a ‘worst case scenario’ mentality. He or she may feel that things are quickly spinning out of their control, and anxiety over something small leads to anxiety over greater and greater consequences that, in reality, will probably not result from the situation at hand.
Well-meaning friends, family, and coworkers respond all too often with encouraging phrases such as “It’s okay, there’s nothing to be stressed about,” or “It’s not a big deal, just calm down and you’ll be fine.” When someone struggles with anxiety, they’re no less intelligent. They recognize mentally when something isn’t a big deal, but emotionally, it feels like a big deal. Their mind and body are often, by this point, on an escalating trajectory toward greater and greater distress. In fact, people who struggle with anxiety often suffer from high blood pressure, headaches, muscle tension, insomnia and even nausea. An anxiety-fueled panic attack can lead to breathing problems and hyperventilation.
If anxiety, stress, and panic are consistent enough, or strong enough, that they’re impacting your life negatively, find a therapist who can help you regain some control in your life. If your anxiety seems milder, and you just get stressed out on occasion, work on techniques that help you maintain calm and control. For example, if you get anxious while presenting speeches at work, ground yourself by including a deep breath, centering thought, or brief pause in your notes. It could be that one day, office supplies will help you reduce your stress, but for now, it’s up to you as an individual. Incorporating some centering techniques and see if they help; if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, find a counselor: that’s exactly what they’re there for.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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