If you are a person with anxiety you know what it feels like but you may not know why you have it. I find most people coming into counseling to work through anxiety do not know exactly what they will be working through, all they know is that they want to feel better and fast!
As you start your journey towards healing, here are five things St. Louis Therapists want you to know about anxiety:
- It requires more than simple talk therapy to heal anxiety: Anxiety is a bit of an enigma, making it feel impossible to fix. Most people feel so daunted by it they turn towards meds or become depressed. The good news is you can heal anxiety with the right therapeutic approach and often without the use of medicine. Sometimes talking through your feelings helps. Venting or talking is definitely a part of therapy and gives your therapist a chance to get to know you in an effort to discover the sources of your anxiety. Your history is very important in the discovery of what fuels your feelings. Talking is only a piece of the pie. To truly cure or greatly reduce your chronic anxiety you need to search out a therapist that is trained in EMDR, ART or Brain Spotting. These therapies go beyond your typical talk therapy, getting to the heart of what drives your anxiety and heals it.
- Your past matters: I won’t go Freudian on you, but your past does matter, yes, your childhood too. I can not tell you how many people write off past experiences and say things to me like, “I should be over that by now”, “That happened when I was a kid so it does not matter”, or “It really was not a big deal.” Most often it is not one thing that happened in your life, it is normally a multitude of things that have happened that fuel feelings of anxiety. You may be saying to yourself right now, nothing ever happened. Fair enough, maybe nothing overtly happened but your anxiety grew its roots in the relational dynamics of your household growing up or in a past, unhealthy relationship. Your past fuels your anxiety, period.
- Look at your diet: Your body is a carefully calibrated machine. If anything is out of whack it will tell you if you listen closely. I am super surprised when I see how many folks are not in tune with their bodies. Sugar, carbs, fried food, empty calories, whatever you want to call them, if you are eating bad you will feel bad. Clean up your diet and you will feel better in every way. If I had to pick- eliminate fast food, soda and sweets. If you are a person that only eats one meal a day, work hard to eat a protein in the morning and small healthy snacks throughout the day. Food is fuel and your body is the machine.
- Balance Is your life truly in balance? We live in a fast paced environment these days. There is constant access to information, socialization, work to be done and progress to be made. Are you balanced in your daily routine? Do you give yourself enough time for transitions? Do you understand the “why” behind why you do the things you do in life? I would bet you $100 right now there are tweaks you can make to create better balance in your life. Evaluate the last couple weeks and see what you find. If you are a student or happen to be in a situation that you can not eliminate any current variables, that is okay. Sneaking in 5 or 10 minutes of me time a day can be a game changer. I one told someone just to stop, and put their head down for a few minutes every day to slow the pace thus reducing anxiety. Always make time for self-care, regardless of how minimal.
- Are you stressed or anxious ? Anxiety is a buzzword these days, but there is a difference between anxiety and stress. What is the difference between anxiety and stress? Stress is situational. For example, you have a big project or even coming up and you are having trouble sleeping, eating and have a tight feeling in your chest. That is stress because after the event passes so will the feeling. Stress is external. Anxiety is chronic and internal. Anxiety is a feeling of persistent apprehension or dread that impacts the quality of a person’s life. Stress can be a trigger to anxiety and can lead to anxiety attacks and then panic disorders, so if you are experiencing intense stress or anxiety seek out a mental health professional ASAP.
- Coping skills are great but, They are a management tool. My goal as a therapist is certainly to teach you coping strategies. I think of coping skills as a bandage in the moment and great therapy as the healing process that enables you to not need the bandage long term. Coping skills will get you through the day and also help you regulate yourself through the tough stuff in session BUT they will not solve a thing. My top goal as a therapist is to help you resolve the anxiety-permanently.
Getting over anxiety is an uphill challenge. That’s why knowing what exactly you will need to work through is essential before getting into counseling. Hopefully, knowing these five things will help you choose the right therapeutic approach and also make the most of it. Remember, you are the key to your complete recovery from anxiety.