Humans have used anxiety to help us survive as a species over many centuries and is a real and normal part of everyday life. But what happens when anxiety gets the best of us and doesn’t seem to be protecting us from anything in particular and instead gets in the way of us living fully or being present? Well, then it might be time to really learn about our anxiety and develop some positive coping skills.

What is anxiety, anyway?

What a great question! The answer is that it shows up differently for different people. Anxiety is actually your brain trying to send you a message that there might be danger out there, somewhere. Some anxiety, as was mentioned before, is a really important part of life! Do you remember feeling like you really needed to prepare for an upcoming exam or get ready to file your taxes before the deadline? Well, that was anxiety at play trying to make sure you didn’t face any consequences, like a bad grade or penalties from the IRS (yikes!) But sometimes, our body and brain start to excessively worry about things that are really out of our control (think, “what ifs”) and it starts to get in the way of us enjoying our lives, even if there is nothing we need to be protected from! That is what most people are referring to when they say they have anxiety. Anxiety can be situational, or it can be more general and show up about just about anything! It can happen more during difficult transitions, or be sparked by certain occurrences, or it can be present during a lot of your daily life.

Okay, I’m pretty sure I have anxiety. But it doesn’t always feel like worry, is it possible that I don’t feel worry?

Absolutely! Sometimes, anxiety can manifest as physical sensations in the body, like butterflies in your stomach, tingling in your arms and legs, or even a rapid heart rate and these feelings can be very uncomfortable. Often, people who have moderate or severe anxiety can utilize other coping skills to try and alleviate or distract from the discomfort, and that in itself can cause issues. An example of utilizing coping skills that might cause issues could be engaging in substance use, like drinking alcohol when you’re stressed. While certain coping strategies can distract from or lessen the discomfort associated with anxiety, they don't help the anxiety change or go away. This causes the anxiety sufferer to continue going to these coping strategies at an increasing rate for relief, which can cause a variety of health and social and mental health issues down the line.

Oh no, I think I engage in some coping strategies that are causing issues for me. What do I do now?

The good news with anxiety is that there are many different skills and strategies that are incredibly effective in helping treat anxiety. If this article felt resonant to you and you’re ready to make a change and improve the relationship you have with this survival tool gone awry, schedule a session today! A therapist can help you understand your anxiety and work to build a customized set of coping strategies that can guide you through life's challenging moments.

What if I just pick up meditation and an exercise routine to manage my stress levels?

This is a great question and one that we see from clients a lot! We love helping client’s find and build out a robust set of positive coping skills and strategies (think meditation, exercise, and having a coffee date with a good friend!) We also know that for some folks, those coping strategies won’t feel like enough. These positive coping skills can often help keep someone who is feeling good feeling, feeling good. And when someone is really struggling and feeling like they are drowning in their anxieties and worries, working with a therapist to understand and process their anxiety and learn more in depth skills can be life-changing.

If you’re ready to take back control of your life from anxiety, contact us to schedule an appointment today! ->