all about anxiety

Anxiety. Whether you're dealing with panic attacks or a never-ending sense of dread, it can seriously impair your life, make you doubt yourself, and cause struggles in relationships. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there that can help, as can therapy.  (Contact me for an appointment.)

One of my favorite approaches for helping with anxiety is ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. In this approach, you work on befriending your anxiety rather than fighting it. You notice it, and you don't judge yourself for it. But you also don't give into it or let it control your life. This is a core skill - acceptance of what's happening in the moment. It fits right in with Carl Rogers' famous saying, "The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change."

Simply putting your thoughts and feelings into words can help, too. In therapy, you might see thought patterns you didn't realize you have are holding you back. You might start to recognize ways that you actually are quite resilient and able to handle whatever happens. This is the magic of talking honestly and openly with another person in a safe setting where you can say anything on your mind and you will not be judged.

Where does anxiety come from? Some people are more prone to it than others thanks to genetics. If your parents struggle with anxiety, for example, you are more likely to struggle as well. Anxiety can also get triggered when you have undergone a very stressful or traumatic event. If you grew up in a chaotic or harmful household (for example, if one of your parents struggled with mental illness or drug addiction) you may also constantly feel on high alert even in adulthood, even though the threat is no longer around. It can be hard to get back to baseline after trauma.

Again, therapy helps.

So do some other practices, including yoga, meditation and even doing theater. Bessel van der Kolk is a well-known researcher who has studied how trauma gets stored in the body. This trauma can manifest in anxiety and depression later on. For more about van der Kolk's work, check out The Trauma Center.

Here are some other helpful resources for helping reduce anxiety.

The Worry Cure, by Robert Leahy. 

Headspace, a mindfulness meditation app.

60 minutes interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn - helpful introduction to mindfulness.