Did you know that worldwide, some 264 million people live with chronic anxiety? Mood and anxiety disorders affect some 3 million Canadians aged 18 and older – and you may be one of them.
Many people feel that anxiety has become part of the “new normal” as we deal with overwhelming issues such as climate change, the pace of technology and the impact of social media. Yet we need to recognize when feelings of anxiety are making it difficult for us to cope with everyday life.
IS ANXIETY TAKING OVER YOUR LIFE?
All of us experience anxious moments. We also live through personal crises that lead to longer periods of anxiety. How can we tell when anxiety has reached the point where we need counselling or treatment?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your anxiety keep you engaging in work, social, academic or leisure activities?
- Do you engage in “safety behaviors” to temporarily ease anxiety? Examples: only speaking to people you know, avoiding eye contact, or always taking the scenic route instead of the highway?
- Do you find you can’t leave your home because you fear losing control or panic?
- Do you find it hard to express your feelings, needs or wishes out of fear you will offend someone or create conflict?
- Do you experience physical symptoms such as trembling, racing heart, shortness of breath or hot and cold flashes?
- Do you find you can’t stop worrying, no matter how you try?
- Do you avoid taking risks, yet still feel insecure (even when playing it safe)?
- Do you worry constantly about what other people think of you?
- Do you find that nothing really helps to relieve your anxiety?
MANAGING YOUR ANXIETY – AND KNOWING WHEN TO SEEK HELP
If you answered “yes” to one or more of the questions posed here, you have acknowledged that anxiety has a strong effect on your life. This is a positive step, since protecting yourself from anxiety will preserve your physical and mental health. Here are some suggestions to help you cope.
BEGIN WITH ACCEPTANCE. Realize that having anxiety doesn’t mean you are broken or flawed. You may simply be more sensitive to sounds, sensations, and stressors in your environment or you may have grown up in a turbulent home. Anxiety is part of you, but it is not all of you – and like any health condition, it can be treated.
FIND A THERAPIST WHO WILL HELP. Techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can relieve your symptoms. This is a method proven through research to help people overcome anxious thinking and tolerate anxiety-provoking situations. Your therapist will work with you to create a treatment plan that addresses your unique needs.
PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Daily life is filled with stresses that add to the psychological load we must bear. Our bodies and brains suffer great wear and tear. This makes it important for us to seek out ways to ease our overall burden. These include getting plenty of sleep and exercise, avoiding tobacco and heavy alcohol use, and finding effective ways to manage negative emotions.
FINDING THE CARE AND SUPPORT YOU NEED
As an experienced therapist working in the Edmonton area, I have helped hundreds of people who need help with chronic anxiety. Therapy, often combined with medications and other forms of self-care, can provide the support you need. If you are looking for a counsellor who can provide you with thoughtful, personalized care, please get in touch with me today.