Are you struggling with stress and anxiety?
In our chaotic world, everyone experiences stress from time to time. However, for many people it is a daily occurrence, and does not always feel manageable. Frequent, prolonged, or extreme stress can lead to numerous problems. Are you a worry-wart? Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed daily? Do you avoid going places or doing things because of your fear and anxiety? Do you run through all of the what ifs before or after making a decision? Do you get angry with others or yourself often? If any of this sounds familiar, you are probably dealing with high levels of stress or an anxiety disorder that could be treated. Just because it has become your norm, doesn’t mean that you have to continue to live with it.
How are chronic stress and anxiety treated?
There are many types of treatment for stress and anxiety; some more effective than others. I use a holistic approach and a combination of techniques to help you get the best results quickly. I primarily use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to treat anxiety, in conjunction with mindfulness and stress management techniques. The exact approach will be determined once we figure out what type of anxiety issues are present. I also usually recommend many lifestyle changes, such as exercise, that effect anxiety. And because there is a direct link between some physical issues like hormone imbalances and vitamin deficiencies and people’s anxiety levels, getting those addressed by a medical professional simultaneously can be highly effective.
Do I have social anxiety?
Social anxiety is very different from other types of anxiety. Some people have a combination of anxiety issues, but for those people who are coping with social anxiety there are very specific triggers, treatments, and management techniques. If you find yourself getting stressed in public places, are afraid of the social interactions that occur in groups or crowded places, fear public speaking or being asked questions in a group setting, then you may be dealing with social anxiety. You may have one or two social situations or interactions that trigger your stress response, or it may be any situation that involves interacting with other people. One of the many differences between social anxiety and other anxiety disorders, is that there is also a component of low self-esteem or self-image that is contributing to the fear and needs to be addressed for treatment to be effective. Simply asking someone who has social anxiety to desensitize themselves by exposure to what bothers them will not work.
What are symptoms of anxiety?
There are numerous symptoms of anxiety. Some are very subtle, and some are severe to the point of resembling a heart attack. If you are someone with chronic stress or anxiety, then you probably don’t even notice the most subtle signs because they are always present. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Muscle tension
- Nausea, gas, stomach pain, or other digestive issues
- Tightness in the chest or diaphragm
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Racing thoughts
- Inability to focus
- Short-term memory issues
If you experience these symptoms frequently then you are probably dealing with anxiety. For people with conditions like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, most of these symptoms are present daily. Recognizing your symptoms is a good starting point, because those symptoms are going to be your barometer to know how much stress you are experiencing at a given time. You can’t manage it until you recognize it.
What happens when stress gets out of control?
Our body’s stress response developed to keep us safe. It’s only supposed to activate in situations of danger. Unfortunately, the things that make us feel insecure or unsafe these days are drastically different and can pop up numerous times a day. When stress gets too intense or frequent, our bodies and brains can’t cope. So, what typically happens is that we start to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms which help us temporarily feel better. For most people with anxiety disorders or chronic stress, they can trace back to childhood when it began. Often times, we learn anxiety and unhealthy coping mechanisms from a parent or care giver. It usually starts out with worrying about all of the little things, then escalates to keeping us from being able to do certain activities, then carries over into other areas of our lives. Throughout this escalation, the more it negatively affects us, the more we beat ourselves up about not being able to control it. That always leads to more unhealthy coping mechanisms or other self-destructive behaviors. Whenever and however it starts, it almost always escalates continuously until we do something to treat it.