It can be tough to admit that you are struggling with anxiety, but it is important for your mental health to get help. Counseling may not be the first solution that comes to mind when you think about how to cope with anxiety, but there are many ways counseling can help. Counselors often employ a wide variety of techniques and tools in their work, which means there is likely something out there for everyone who needs it. In this blog post we will discuss the benefits of counseling that show how effective therapy can be in treating anxiety!
What is anxiety?
The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure”. Some anxiety is a normal and biologically helpful response to certain types of stress. This is important to understand the difference between normally occurring anxiety and a diagnosable anxiety disorder that is disruptive to daily life and requires professional intervention. Anxiety is not always a bad thing and can sometimes be a constructive motivating force, it can also keep us and our loved ones safe from danger, says Dr. Donna Brazile of the University of New York City’s Aging Center, MD, in reference to its study of stress-related stress-causing anxiety disorders. Anxiety becomes a problem when it consumes our thoughts and limits our actions.
Causes of Anxiety
No one knows for sure what causes an anxiety disorder. Biological factors have found that parts of the human brain are involved in fear and anxiety. Environment factors are alsoa factor in anxiety disorders. Human bodies are designed to live at a much slower pace and with less stimulus change than what our current, always connected to a phone & internet environment provides. The simple fact that today’s lifestyles are so different today from past lifestyles could be the root of our anxiety, along with environmental factors, could help explain why anxiety is on the rise.
According to large population-based surveys, up to 33.7% of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. This is likely under-reported as most of the anxieties that people experience is not a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Counseling can help with anxiety because it provides a safe space where someone who is struggling can openly discuss their fears and worries. Counselors listen, ask questions, offer insights and provide guidance so that the client feels heard in order to build self-knowledge which ultimately leads to increased coping skills.
Treating anxiety disorders with therapy and counseling
Counseling for anxiety can help uncover the underlying causes of anxiety and help you learn more about coping skills. The leading types of therapy are cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. Many people improve their generalized anxiety significantly within 8-to-10 sessions. Each anxiety therapy may be used alone or combined with other therapy, but the goal is the same: To lower your anxiety levels, calm your mind, and overcome your fears.
Making anxiety therapy work for you
Everything from your activity level to your social life affects anxiety. Education alone won’t cure an anxiety disorder, but it will help you get the most out of therapy. Loneliness and isolation set the stage for anxiety. Don’t use alcohol and drugs to cope with your symptoms, and try to avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, which can make anxiety worse. If you’re feeling discouraged, remember that therapy for anxiety is very effective in the long run. You can also support your own anxiety therapy by making positive choices, like making a conscious decision to promote relaxation, vitality, and a positive mental outlook in your everyday life. Try to see friends, join a self-help or support group, or share your worries and concerns.
Thought challenging in CBT for anxiety
Thought challenging is a process in which you challenge the negative thinking patterns that contribute to your anxiety, replacing them with more positive thoughts. This involves three steps: challenge your negative thoughts and replace the thought, and test out the new thought and to solidify the experience, then repeat.
Complementary therapies for anxiety disorders
Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever. As little as 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week provides significant anxiety relief. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least an hour of aerobic exercise on most days. Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation and progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety. I also love using Acupuncture as an anxiety treatment to help calm your nervous system down, reduce physical symptoms and re-wire how your brain responds to it’s environment. It’s one of the fastest ways to take you our of fight or flight mode and people with anxiety tend to love it.
In My Practice
I find that when you’re suffering from anxiety you need a more holistic approach. I combine psychology, mindfulness and coaching to help you take control of negative thoughts and anxious thoughts. The goal is to help you improve your ability to function in this stress filled world. Stressors aren’t going away, so you need to learn the skills you were never taught.