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.

How to Help a Loved One who has Anxiety

How to Help a Loved One who has Anxiety

Coping with anxiety is difficult for the person going through it. Also true for the people around them. Family members and close friends impacted by having a loved one struggle with anxiety is difficult too. This blog focuses 3 easy ways a loved one can support their family member without enabling.

Listen To Your Loved One.

No matter how many times you’ve heard it, no matter how often this has happened, listen. The person struggling with anxiety does not want to have this condition. They do not wake this morning wanting to feel anxiety. Listen with your ears, but really listen with your heart. Offer non-verbal encouragement, nod your head, look at them, and sit with them on their level.

Limit the Anxious Talk.

Being supportive of your loved one struggling with anxiety doesn’t mean that you are constantly available. While it is important to show consistent support by being physically and emotionally present, you don’t have to stop your own life. Give yourself a magic number. Think of a certain amount of time you are willing [and able] to give to listen and be with your loved one. This number can vary from day to day. For example, this morning you may have 15 minutes, but tomorrow you may have 30 minutes. Let your loved one know you want to be there for them but set boundaries so you don’t make yourself available 24/7.

Ask How You Can Help.

When your loved one is calm, ask what you can do to help the next time they feel anxious. Ask what they need during these times. Ask questions to better understand how anxiety impacts them personally. If your loved one does not know the answer to these questions or are providing answers that seem codependent (ie:”as long as you never leave my side, I’m ok”), that’s a clear indicator they could benefit from getting some extra help.

Having a loved one with anxiety is not easy. It may seem that despite your best attempts, the anxiety does not seem to ease back. But remember, your loved one is different than the anxiety. When you feel angry or frustrated, just remember to target this towards the anxiety not your loved one. The two of you together can fight towards the same cause: managing the anxiety.

5 Easy Ways to Manage Anxiety

5 Easy Ways to Manage Anxiety

WRITTEN BY: KIMBERLY ALANIZ, LCSW-S

Do you feel like getting your anxiety under control seems too hard? Below are 5 easy things you can do today to get you anxiety under control– and each just take few minutes.

1.Step away from the caffeine

 Although coffee affects each person differently, it may not be the best choice if you struggle with anxiety. Coffee is a powerful stimulant that mimics natural functions in you body that happen when we are anxious and your body /mind may not be able to tell the difference. You may feel your heart rate increase, take shorter breaths or even a rise in temperature. Mentally, you may even feel restless, stressed or nervous.  Swapping your morning coffee for warm tea or hot cocoa may help reduce anxiety without abandoning the warm, calming routine.

2. Spend some time in nature

Evaluate what your average day looks like. Where and how do you normally spend your time? If the answer is indoors and in front of a screen it may be time to get outside. Spending time in nature could improve both your physical and emotional healthy.  Physically, time outdoors lowers blood pressure, releases muscle tension and decreases the creation of stress hormones. Activities like enjoying the evening on your front porch or hiking a trail could help calm the body and mind. In fact, research shows even viewing scenic images of nature can have similar effects.

3. Focus on your breathing

Deep breathing exercises can help create links between both sympathetic (kick starts fight or flight) and parasympathetic (influences relaxation) nervous systems. When you take a long, deep breath in, your sympathetic nervous system increases things like your heart rate and blood pressure. As you elongate the exhale, your body begins slow the heart and loosen tense muscles.

 Try this breathing exercise and enjoy the benefits!

*Box breathing- Sit in a comfortable, quite spot with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Draw your attention to your breath. Drag the tip of your finger along your leg to “draw” each side of a box using the following breaths as a guide. Exhale, inhale (count to 4 in your mind), hold your breath for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts. Repeat at least 4 times.

4.Grounding

Grounding is a practice that allows a person to refocus and redirect nervous thoughts, flashbacks or uncomfortable emotions to the present time and behaviors.  Here are two grounding activities to try.

*Place your hand underneath a running tap of warm water. Focus on the temperature and pressure of the water as it hits parts of your hand. Listen closely to the sounds of the running water. How do the sensations differ from your fingertips, palm and the back of your hand? Now try this with cold water and then alternate between the two.

*5-4-3-2-1

Counting backwards from five, focusing on your five senses, interact physically or list things around you.

5 things you can see

4 things you can touch

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste

5. Exercise

Even though we may not always enjoy exercise, we almost never regret how we feel after. This is more than likely because of the endorphins released in our body after activity. No need to run to the gym. Things like a brisk walk with your pet, dancing in your kitchen as you cook dinner or riding your bike are all great alternatives to a gym membership.

If you begin to feel discouraged because it seems like everything you try doesn’t work, you’re not alone. Don’t feel as though you have to work through this silently. We are here to help you get your anxiety under control- reach out to us to schedule an appointment within a week.