What Does Anxiety Look Like in My Life?

What Does Anxiety Look Like in My Life?

As a reminder, everyone feels worried or anxious at some point throughout their life. Worry and nervousness are normal, natural, and healthy emotions to feel. Anxiety, however, is what happens when those feelings come and stay too long, then begin to negatively impact your life. This article will review a few different ways to know if you are an anxious person.

Anxiety is getting in the way of life.

Are you saying “No” to life events and social things? Do you call into work because you worry you can’t make it through the day? Have people around you worried that you’re not ok? Are the things you used to enjoy doing before, seem like too much work? If you feel you’re saying no to life and yes to staying home where it is “safer” this may be an indicator you’re struggling with anxiety. Think about what you would LIKE to do each day- for example, you would like to get out of bed at your second alarm (because you snooze through your first). You would like to grab breakfast and get your kiddo ready without anyone melting down. You would like to make it to work on time and not worry about what your co-workers or boss are thinking about you. You would like to have a healthy appetite that feels content when you put good food into it, without rushing to restroom after. These are healthy wants. You are entitled to live a “regular” life- but if anxiety is getting in the way of these basic wants, that could be a cue anxiety is overtaking your life. 

Your body is starting to hurt because of the anxiety.

Are you struggling with urinary and bowel problems? Bubble guts? Butterflies in the stomach? Upset stomach? Diarrhea? Anxiety tends to cause problems in the stomach, head, and chest. For example heart racing, migraines, headaches, achy and tired eyes, hands shaking, and the list goes on, could be a side effect of anxiety. While there could be other reasons for this like medical issues, we can’t rule out the mental and emotional impact either. Working with a counselor and your primary care doctor can help.

It’s hard to relax because you feel constantly on edge.

While certain situations may cause anxious responses this isn’t a sustainable physical state. For example, if you slam on your brakes while driving to avoid a car accident, it’s normal to feel a little jittery for the rest of the car ride. However, you should start to feel calm again once you get to your destination and realize you are safe. You aren’t meant to constantly be on edge and overly reactive to things around you. It’s really important to stay aware of your surroundings but when you can’t find it in you to calm down, this could be a problem.

Uncontrolled thoughts.

One of the quickest to know if you are an anxious person is to pay attention to the thoughts you’re thinking. Yes, I know, its a very counselor thing to say. But your thoughts will give you insight into anxiety levels. Are you constantly worrying about things that have already happened? About how many minutes or hours a day are you thinking anxious thoughts? For example, worst case scenarios of bad things that could happen in the future? Are you worried about the safety of your loved ones constantly? Is it hard to pay attention to anything else going on around you because you’re constantly worried? Again, worry is normal and healthy. But when it becomes the central focus of your entire day, something is not right and you don’t have to live like that.

If this sounds like you, or someone you know, there is help available. Reach out to us today to talk more about this and how to get that anxiety under control.

Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Anxiety attacks are scary and confusing. Your mind races, your body reacts negatively and you fear something is wrong. Many go to emergency rooms, urgent care clinics or hospitals to see what’s going on. This article will talk about common symptoms of an anxiety attack and how to calm down before getting some extra help from a mental health professional.

What is an Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack is a problem that begins in your thoughts. I know, strange right? The thoughts you create in your mind can come out through your emotions, which then comes out through your body. If you think anxious thoughts, you feel anxious feelings, which then leads to anxious actions or in this case, an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack is felt in the body, but starts with the racing thoughts. 

Common Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack.

The following are symptoms of anxiety attack:

  • increased heart rate,
  • increased temperature,
  • heart racing,
  • feeling on edge or fearful,
  • racing thoughts,
  • shortness of breath, and/or
  • feeling as though you can’t breathe.

What does an Anxiety Attack Feel Like?

An anxiety attack will make you feel you can’t breathe and like there is something pressing firmly on your chest. Anxiety attacks are described by many as a stroke or small heart attack. It feels like your chest is in pain and something is wrong with your heart or lungs. You can’t catch you breath and begin to hyperventilate. Others times you feel you can’t breathe and worry you will pass out. Worse yet, is the fear of dying. These are the reasons many often go to a medical place first.

It’s usually with loads of medical testing and negative results doctors find it was likely an emotional or mental issue. It’s easy to understand when you take a step back. Look at the list of anxiety attack symptoms above- much of it involves your heart rate and breathing. Key word, heart and lungs. While we don’t have direct control over our heart and lungs, we do have control over something that controls those things.

How to Calm an Anxiety Attack

Breathing. Seems so simple right? Breathing is a quick way to control your heart rate. Deep belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing is really helpful, especially on the front end of an anxiety attack. While it’s helpful to use deep breathing during an anxiety attack, for better results, use it before hand.

Essentially, when taking a deep breath in you make your belly go out, but keep your chest the same. When letting the breath out, you deflate your belly (like an empty balloon) while keeping your chest the same. Belly breathing is only one of many coping strategies to control an anxiety attack. Your counselor can help you find more ways.

Remember the mind is where the anxiety is beginning. The body is just the innocent bystander who got dragged along. If you want to learn how to control your anxiety, reach out to us today. It can be very difficult to manage anxiety all by yourself. It doesn’t have to be an anxiety attack every day or nearly every day before you get extra help. There are ways you can control your anxiety without anxiety controlling you.

Am I an Anxious Person?

Am I an Anxious Person?

Ever wondered if you’re an anxious person? Have you questioned, does my anxiety feel like everyone else’s? Why does it seem like my anxiety is higher than most? Perhaps your loved ones around you have pointed it out. They’ve mentioned you seem uptight and have a hard time calming down. Maybe you seem lost in space almost like you’re zoned out. If this sounds like you, here are some ways to know if you are struggling with anxiety.

Anxiety versus Feeling Anxious

As a reminder, everyone feels anxiety to some extent or another. There’s a difference between feeling anxious and having anxiety. Someone who feels anxious, has a moment of anxiety that comes and goes like any other feeling. When someone has clinical anxiety, the feeling of anxiety is overwhelming, exhausting, and sometimes debilitating.

Duration, Intensity, Frequency

Clinical anxiety is something that gets in the way of every day life. For an anxious person we look at 3 things: frequency, intensity and duration. When a person is frequently anxious, anxious thoughts usually take up the majority of the day and happens every day. Intensity looks at how severe the thoughts are: are the thoughts realistically worried (ie: I’m worried my daughter will get on the wrong bus since it’s her first week of school) or irrationally anxious (ie: My husband and I should book two sepearate flights so if one of us dies in a plane crash our kids will still have one parent)? And lastly is duration: how long do anxious spells last? Hours? Minutes? Days?

For an anxious individual, the thoughts can be so overwhelming that it’s hard to focus on anything else but the anxious thoughts. Those around you may notice it’s hard for you to calm down or unwind. It makes it difficult to stay focused, organize, and on task with things you have to. For many, anxiety keeps you up at night. You have overwhelming thoughts of all the things that could go wrong tomorrow and highlights the things you feel out of control about.

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

For many, anxiety can lead to physical symptoms like an upset, stomach, headache, and muscle tension. Many often experience, heart palpitation, earning creased heart rate, which feels a whole lot like a physical condition. Read more about that here.

Write Down Your Anxious Symptoms

One way to determine if you’re an anxious individual is to pay attention to the thoughts you are thinking. Take inventory of how often you experience these thoughts, how intense they are and how long the last. I know, this sounds like a counselor thing to say, and it is. Listen to your thoughts. Are they fear-based? Irrational? Overwhelming? Only you can tell. You are the only one who can hear the thoughts. Pay attention to the thoughts you think. Write them down and go from there. Email us if it’s seems too much to tackle alone.

What is Trauma?

What is Trauma?

  • WRITTEN BY: MARQUIA CALDWELL, LPC
  • “Trauma is much more than a story about the past…trauma is re-experienced in the present, not as a story, but as profoundly disturbing physical sensations and emotions that may be associated with memories of past trauma”

    -Bessel van der Kolk, a trauma expert

    When mental health professionals talk about trauma and mental health, we are talking about an emotional or psychological injury. Trauma is a response to an experience that overwhelms an individual’s capacity to cope, often as a result of dangerous situations or life threatening events. This can be a single event or multiple events. These experiences cause a negative impact on the mind and heart. There are various forms of trauma such as, but can include the following: 

        • Abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional),
        • Life-threatening accidents or illnesses,
        • Violence in school or the community,
        • Domestic violence (witnessing or experiencing),
        • National disasters,
        • Acts of terror,
        • Public health crises such as COVID-19,
        • Loss of a loved one, especially when sudden or violent in nature,
        • Refugee or war experiences,
        • and Neglect.

      Noticeable signs when struggling with trauma can include:

        • Insomnia, 
        • Poor concentration, 
        • Intrusive memories and thoughts,
        • Isolation, 
        • Self-doubt, 
        • Mood changes, 
        • Detachment from reality, 
        • Nightmares and/or flashbacks, 
        • Panic attacks, 
        • Loss of hope, 
        • Lack of vision for future, 
        • Inability to regulate emotions or lack of emotional response, 
        • Paranoia, 
        • Hypervigilance, and more. 

      Trauma writes itself on the mind and body of survivors. This means our actions, reactions, and behaviors are a result of our painful experiences.  Each traumatic experience is unique and can manifest in lots ways such as PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, Chronic Pain, Increased chances of experiencing life-threatening conditions, Relationship and Social Issues.

      Our traumas do NOT define us; they are just a PART of who we are.”

      Recovery and Support

      Recovery with trauma is a journey. Think of having a deep cut on your arm. There are options presented to us to heal this cut. You can leave it alone and let it heal on its own, clean it and cover it, or go to a professional to close it up. When it comes to emotional wounds, most cover it up and hope for the best. However, sometimes when we think things are healed, we realize it didn’t quite heal right. 

    • Re-opening wounds can be part of the process of healing, and with counseling, this is oftentimes the case. There are various forms of counseling and psychotherapy to help survivors cope with their traumatic experiences. Along with therapy, doing enjoyable activities/ hobbies and surrounding oneself with a positive support system is incredibly helpful in coping with trauma as well.
    • If you’re not sure where to start, but know you have experienced trauma, don’t wait for things to get harder or worse. Remember, getting help for trauma doesn’t have an expiration date. Even if traumatic things happened “a long time ago,” your heart can still find healing today. 

       

Anxiety- What is it?

Anxiety- What is it?

WRITTEN BY: KIMBERLY ALANIZ, LCSW-S

Nearly every individual will experience symptoms of anxiety in their lifetime. In fact, small amounts of anxiety aren’t necessarily a bad thing. So, can anxiety be good? Or even helpful? The answer is, yes! Like other emotions, anxiety serves an important biological purpose; protection.

The Evolution of Anxiety 

Evolutionarily (think back to cave man days) it protected cavemen from walking through tall grass with the potential of being attacked by an animal hiding feet away. In today’s modern world, anxiety can push you to study for a big algebra test, encourage you to apply for your dream job or discourage you from walking down a dark, empty alley alone.  

Biologically, anxiety prepares and helps the body to fight, freeze or flee a stressful situation in an attempt to protect. You may experience this as a rapid heart rate and breathing, which purpose is to send oxygenated blood to muscles you need in the process (i.e., your legs). You may even experience this as racing thoughts, which mentally prepares you for every possible scenario. Although the experience itself may feel negative, healthy amounts of anxiety are normal.

So, when can anxiety be bad or unhelpful? When the feelings of anxiety become excessive dread or fear that interrupts everyday life even when there is no evidence of a real threat. These symptoms could suggest a clinical anxiety disorder.

Common Anxiety Disorders:

· Generalized anxiety disorder– excessive, unrealistic worry about everyday life situations with no obvious reason.

· Social anxiety disorder- excessive fear and irrational thoughts about social situations to include worries about feeling judged, embarrassed or humiliated.

· Panic disorder- excessive fear and worries about losing control or disaster accompanied by sudden or frequent attacks of fear that last a few minutes to longer (also called panic attacks).

Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

· Feelings of panic, dread and doom,

· Difficulties falling and staying asleep,

· Shortness of breath or rapid shallow breathing,

· Rapid heart beat,

· Tense muscles,

· Stomach issues not explained by another medical condition,

· Over thinking,

· Inability to concentrate.

Sound familiar? If you or someone you love is struggling contact a mental health professional who can help you understand anxiety and help find ways to manage symptoms. Contact us today!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…Your First Counseling Appointment

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…Your First Counseling Appointment

Thinking of your first session with your counselor can be scary. But rest assured, it’s not as scary as you think. This blog below will go over some expectations you can have for your first meeting with your new counselor.

How a Counselor is Different than a Doctor

To begin, a counseling appointment is very different than meeting with a doctor. A counseling session is a talk therapy session. You and your counselor will be conversating with the intent to go over as much information about you as possible. You will talk about what brings you to counseling and what you hope to get from it. Counselors do not prescribe medication, nor are we able to, so don’t count on us for that. We can, however, diagnose you with a mental health condition like generalized anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder. *If you are looking for medication for psyhological issues, you need a psychiatric appointment.

Counseling Paperwork

The first counseling appointment is about an hour or a little more. You will also have to complete loads of documents and forms (insurance info, informed consent, credit card authorization form, etc). Any good counselor will REQUIRE you to complete these before your session. 

Your counselor will spend some time reviewing the informed consent with you. This form goes through fees, what to expect from counseling, how to get a hold of your counselor, your rights, and limits to confidentiality. One of the most important things is that you know all of what you share in counseling is private and confidential—with the exception of a few things, mainly related to safety of yourself and others.

The Beginning of the Counseling Session 

Your counselor will ask you questions about things sticking out from your intake. Your counselor will get more information about how you grew up, your family and who is part of your family now. We want to know things that give you joy and things that really bother you. Most important, we want to know what brings you into counseling to begin with. Your counselor will talk with you and process different things to get a better understanding of your situation.

The End of the Counseling Session 

By the end of session, you and your counselor will be working to identify goals based on the reason you’re getting counseling. For example, the reason you are seeking counseling might be because of marriage problems and stress. The goal is geared towards what you hope to gain from your experience in counseling. An example of a goal for marriage problems might be to better control your emotions and temper with your spouse and work on stress relieving skills.

Counseling is Your Choice

Going to counseling is a voluntary decision meaning no one can force you to come. Your counselor will make recommendations about how often you should be seen or when to come back. But ultimately it is your choice to continue counseling or not. While others around may want you to come to counseling, it is your decision. If you’re under the age of 18, you and your guardian are in control of this choice.

Remember your counselor is a person, just like you. Your counselor does not have all of the answers, a magic wand, or a special pill to make all your problems go away. The goal is to change you: how you think, how you act, and how take control of your emotions. The focus will not be on changing your situation as much as it will be on changing you.