Anxiety it a very complicated feeling, experienced by all people, and spans a very broad spectrum in terms of type, severity and general function.
Anxiety is necessary for survival. It’s a feeling that helps us act when we are in danger, and can get us to do things that are important in the day to day. It’s a problem to not experience any anxiety, because this means that we are not getting any signals that there might be danger, or we need to act urgently. Although, we can intellectually know that something should be acted on without anxiety, anxiety is a built in signal that helps us know we need to do something.
Unfortunately, in modern society, there are endless opportunities for us to feel anxious that are not helpful to us, and can, in the most severe instances, completely paralyze us and keep us from doing the most basic day to day activities.
- Keep us from leaving our homes.
- Stop us from seeing friends.
- Prevent us from going to work.
- Distance us from family.
- Make it impossible to develop lasting intimate relationships.
- Keep us from pursuing our dreams and goals.
- Prevent us from sleeping at night.
These are only some of the issues that can be caused by anxiety. There are many more.
Are you an over thinker?
Many people find themselves in their head too much of the time. They might be spending time with friends, family or a romantic partner, but instead of being in the moment, they are thinking about what that person is thinking, what they should say, how they might be judged, etc. In short, they are incapable of enjoying the moment, because they are too busy worrying about endless variations and possibilities. This might leave them wracked with regrets, frustrated, disconnected or depressed. It prevents deeper connection because the individual is not attuned to the other person, because they are too busy anticipating this or that, planning or worrying, to really see or listen to the other person.
Do you find yourself having physical symptoms such as stomach aches, insomnia, dizziness, hives, nausea, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, etc.?
You should seek a medical doctor to rule our organic causes, but these can all be symptoms of anxiety. What happens in cases of severe anxiety, is that the body can in essence, distract itself from those uncomfortable or painful feelings, with physical symptoms. This is one reason why it’s important to acknowledge when you are feeling anxious, and take steps to manage these feelings. Avoiding anxiety can result in very serious issues, such as the somatic symptoms described above.
How can therapy help?
Therapy is a way to facilitate an exploration of your inner self, including your anxious feelings. You may recognize that your anxious feelings are not quite logical, or seem exaggerated. Maybe they don’t even make sense to you because you rationally know otherwise. Through this exploration of self, you can gradually learn to understand these anxious feelings. Perhaps they relate to experiences of your past, and/or distortions in the way you perceive the world or identify yourself. You can start seeing the world in a less distorted light, reducing your feelings of anxiety, and enabling you to use this new space to pursue your goals, deepen relationships, and get closer to the version of you you strive to be.