What is Anxiety?
When individuals describe anxiety symptoms, they often talk about experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, feeling like their heart is racing, or their palms are sweating. As it turns out, anxiety is really the feeling of fear. All emotions create physical sensations in our body, but fear creates the most physical symptoms. In the moment as individuals experience anxiety symptoms, thoughts of being afraid and wanting to remove themselves from the situation as soon as possible are most commonly stated.
It is important to remember that everyone experiences the feeling of fear. Fear can be helpful because it can warn us of the real dangers existing in the world. Anxiety becomes an obstacle if the person becomes paralyzed by their fears and their ability to function on a daily basis is negatively impacted.
Your thoughts impact your feelings and your feelings also impact your thoughts. As a result of this dynamic, I typically use two approaches when assisting individuals with overcoming anxiety. First, I assist individuals to evaluate whether their thoughts are rational when feelings of anxiety are triggered. Often, individuals experience thoughts of extremely negative outcomes that are highly unlikely to occur and may never have happened. Additionally, I also discuss what it would be like for the individual if the negative outcome they fear actually happens. Then, I assist individuals to recognize they will survive and life will continue to move forward should the negative outcome occur.
At times, individuals struggle with evaluating whether their thoughts are rationale at the moment when experiencing symptoms of anxiety. In these situations, I teach individuals practical mindfulness skills. Mindfulness is the practice of being present with your thoughts and feelings as you experience them. Individuals can be present with their thoughts and feelings of fear by using mindfulness techniques such as controlled breathing and using your five senses. Then, I assist individuals with developing emotion regulation skills they can utilize to decrease feelings of fear. When individuals are able to reduce feelings of fear, they are then able to evaluate whether or not their thoughts are rational. It’s important to remember that, at times, we are all afraid in life. It’s imperative to remember it is possible to learn how to manage feelings of fear.
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