Dallas Therapy Collective
You just can’t shut your mind off.
You’re trying to focus on one thing and you become so riddled with anxiety that you can’t remember what you were trying to do. Try as you might to control them, those panic attacks seem to go from 0 to 60 in a flash and you’re not sure how to make them stop. You really want to be engaged with your life – your relationships, your work, etc., but your worry takes you out of the present. “What if I make the wrong decision?” “What if I do something that makes me look stupid?” “What if I can’t do it all?” Your fears are tormenting you. It’s gotten so bad that you’ve become afraid of the anxiety itself – “will this ever go away?”
Life is so full – there are so many things to remember, your to-do lists are endless, and there are so many moving parts to your life. You think that if you will yourself to get it all done, to figure it all out, then you’ll be fine. But you just can’t shut off those nagging voices that keep you up at night – that torment you and take you out of the present. You’re constantly thinking about what’s next.
Fear can be debilitating. Fear of messing up, fear of failure, fear of disappointing others. You may even find yourself with social anxiety – or anxiety that robs you from seeing your friends, attending work functions, or feeling comfortable in public settings because you’re trapped in your head.
Anxiety often becomes a vicious cycle. Your mind spins out of control and then you worry about your worry. You can’t think clearly or focus and this can create even more anxiety. You stare at the ceiling with your head on your pillow – your mind racing – knowing you’ll just be tired again the next day. You might have even noticed that you’re having more tension headaches and aches in your shoulders and your back or possibly more stomachaches. Our bodies are often the vessels of our emotions, the greatest victims of the stress we carry.
Eventually, anxiety can impact our relationships, our home life, or our work. It forces us to focus on the future, robbing us of the ability to live in the present. A healthy amount of anxiety is tolerable, but when it becomes severe, it’s hard to enjoy life anymore because we are trapped inside our own worry.
Anxiety is part of being human
A small dose of worry is actually quite motivating for us. When you’re worried about an upcoming presentation, your worry may result in extra practice so that you’re more fully prepared. When you’re worried about skidding your car as rain comes tromping down the highway, you’re likely to be more careful about your driving. Worry often reminds us of what is important and helps us to prioritize.
However, when worry takes a left-hand turn onto an unmarked road, it can lead us down a scary path of debilitating fear. How did I get here? How do I get out? I didn’t sign up for this!
And it certainly doesn’t help that we live in a culture that esteems busyness. “How are you?” “Oh, just so busy,” we reply. Anxiety from excessive busyness has become grafted into our social norms…an acceptable fact of life. And for what?
However, we handle it, we take care of it, we learn to live with it. We stretch ourselves thin, getting less and less sleep, tending less to how we are nourishing our bodies, slowly letting our workouts go. Over time we realize – wait a second – how did this get so out of hand? Our worry, already having infiltrated our minds, causes us to doubt ourselves. Why can’t I handle this? Am I weak?
And as worry does, it deceives us. You are not weak or incompetent. Your worry has simply taken the wheel without your knowing it…until now.
The odds are stacked against many of us and anxiety can escalate for any of us. Sometimes the weight of our life circumstances becomes too heavy and we buckle under all that weight. Some of us are genetically loaded for anxiety and when we think about it, can identify parents, grandparents, or other relatives who had “the nerves” or who were “worry warts” or who we know through family stories that they were worried all the time.
Anxiety, stress, and worry are quite responsive to treatment. Whether your worry is chronic, is a newer phenomenon for you, or is isolated to certain situations like social settings or work performance, there are tools to help you manage your anxiety and take your life back from under it’s reigns.
You may have questions about anxiety help…
My anxiety actually motivates me and makes me productive – why would I want to give that up?
You are right – anxiety can be a motivator. It can keep you up at night working to meet your deadline and it can help you ensure you’ll be prepped for your next meeting. Anxiety is a normal part of daily living….the problem comes when there is excessive anxiety and the brain begins to perceive things are more stressful than they need to be. It then produces the “fight or flight” chemicals too often and at higher quantities than we need for daily living. Basically, with excessive anxiety, the brain starts to perceive minor stressors as extreme and then it overreacts to the situation, causing increased anxiety, physical symptoms, exhaustion, and emotional pain. Counseling for anxiety can help you to re-train your brain to accurately perceive situations so that it no longer over-reacts on a consistent basis. This way you can learn to react in a more appropriate way to stressors of daily life. Anxiety can still motivate you to get things done, but doesn’t have to rule your life.
Why would I want to talk about my anxiety – won’t that just make me more anxious?
This is a common objection to therapy for anxiety…and you may be right. Talking about your anxiety may increase your anxiety earlier on in treatment. Counseling for anxiety can be a vulnerable process as you start allowing yourself to connect with deeper feelings that you have otherwise been able to avoid. However, anxiety is quite treatable; in fact it’s one of the most easily treated mental health conditions. Once you begin the process, you will build a trusting relationship with your counselor and learn some practical skills for managing your anxiety. Often, the fear dissipates as you learn to tolerate your uncomfortable emotions in a safe context and as you become equipped with tools to help you manage your anxiety.
Anxiety runs in my family– what If this is just the way it is for me?
You are right – anxiety can run in families and can have a genetic component. You may have heard stories about your great grandparent having “the nerves” or avoiding social norms due to their worry. You might feel like you’re doomed – that there’s nothing you can do about your anxiety. However, research shows that anxiety is highly responsive to treatment, even for those with severe anxiety or panic attacks. Your therapist will conduct a thorough assessment of your history and your symptoms and make recommendations based on your unique situation. These may include weekly talk-therapy where you will learn skills to manage your anxiety or it may include other modalities such as medication, mindfulness activities, or yoga. Your anxiety can become manageable, even if it runs in your family.
You can learn to manage your social anxiety, panic attacks, and other anxiety
to make it work for you rather than it hijacking your life.
Anxiety is one of the main reasons that people seek counseling. At Dallas Therapy Collective, we treat anxiety with a holistic perspective. We will help you examine your thoughts, your feelings, and your behaviors related to anxiety. Your therapist will conduct a thorough assessment of your symptoms and collaborate with you to make recommendations that fit your unique situation. This may include psychotherapy, medication, yoga therapy, or other ways to better help you manage your anxiety.