Everyone worries sometimes, but when your worries are persistent and interfere with your ability to function in your everyday life, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
Chronic worrying can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and physically and mentally drained. In working with a counselor, you can learn to relax your body and calm your anxious mind.
Counselors can help by teaching you strategies to manage anxiety such as challenging and defusing worried thoughts, setting and following through with an exercise plan, relaxation training to improve sleep and ease physical symptoms of panic, and mindfulness training to strengthen focus and a sense of calm.
With the support and guidance of a psychologist, you will learn cognitive and mindfulness strategies to change the way you relate to your anxious thoughts and feelings. For example, visualizations such as watching your thoughts as an outside observer can help you to be less reactive and entangled with your anxious thoughts. Over time, you can learn to change your relationship with anxiety—recognizing that is a normal feeling that comes and goes, and it always subsides in its own if you give it enough time. Your anxiety cannot hurt you, even though the physical symptoms of anxiety can feel dangerous and scary as they arise. Your counselor will help you understand the physiological fight-flight-freeze response that occurs when we feel unsafe or perceive there to be a danger. This response is protective and adaptive much of the time, however, at times our body perceives threat when there actually is none. In working with a counselor, you will learn ways to respond to anxiety that will promote flexible thinking, physical calm, and connectedness with others…while continuing to do what matters to you the most in life.
Relaxation training is also an important component of anxiety management. For example, counselors are trained in teaching progressive muscle relaxation, a strategy that involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group to promote reduction of physical anxiety. Similarly, diaphragmatic breathing is a highly effective, deep breathing technique that produces a physical relaxation response in your body. This specific type of breathing has been linked to numerous health benefits, including reducing overall stress, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and coping with trauma-related symptoms.
With the support of a compassionate, skilled counselor, you can learn how to stop letting anxiety get in the way and begin moving toward a more satisfying, fulfilling life.