Woman crying as she worries about how it feels when your anxiety is debilitating.Anxiety can be debilitating.  It is marked by worry, uneasiness, nervousness, and even terror and hysteria.  There is a fear that something bad will happen, and that you can’t trust the world.  You can even feel you are losing your mind. These feelings can be so crippling that they interfere with your daily life.  

Anxiety often affects you physically, as well.  Body sensations can range from butterflies in your stomach, dizziness and weakness, to full-on feelings of dread and panic.  Your heart can beat fast, you start sweating, and it’s hard to breathe.

Anxiety can take the form of obsessive thoughts you can’t turn off, or compulsive behaviors such as excessive exercise, workaholism, or repeated hand washing.  

If you could turn the worry and fear off, you would, but you are not able to just ‘let it go’.  So, it is very important to talk to a qualified therapist who can help you figure out what you can do, and why this is happening.  Talking about what is going on is key to feeling healthy again.

Uncovering Emotions

One common reason for anxiety is not being able to turn off constant negative thoughts and catastrophic thinking.  You have learned many false beliefs about yourself that you need to identify, then investigate when and how you learned them, and rethink the belief in a more accurate way.  You can learn how to reframe and re-state your thoughts and stop freaking yourself out.

I have found that unacknowledged feelings from unhappy events in the past are often at the root of anxiety.  If something scary happened to you, especially as a child, and you’ve never faced it, it starts to come up in the form of anxiety symptoms.

Emotions and body sensations are trying to tell you something, asking you to listen and pay attention to something important.

If you felt fear or even terror when you were younger, you were probably too scared to even experience your feelings.  You try to stuff down your memories and feelings, pushing them back into your unconscious.

When you were younger, you pushed down angry or sad feelings, instead of learning how to let them out in a healthy way.  These feelings can be powerful, so we become afraid of them.

After a while, especially if you are repeatedly scared, you keep your feelings back, and more and more memories and feelings pile up over the years and get stronger as a result.  You begin to get really scared of opening the floodgates and letting all your emotions spill out. You just can’t keep it all down, so, everything starts to leak out as anxiety symptoms.

You might not even be aware of what you’ve pushed down.  Our minds have powerful defense mechanisms to protect young children from pain and hurt and abandonment.  These defense mechanisms protect your nervous system from potentially overwhelming emotions.

But, at some point, once you feel safe again, it is time to process those feelings.  If you don’t, they start controlling you and you are paralyzed with anxiety. Therapy is a safe place to begin the process.

It is important to develop insight into your childhood patterns and identify which are serving you and which aren’t.

Patterns often feel ‘true’ since they were true when you were little. They may not be true now! They may not apply to your adult world.

For example, if you weren’t allowed to speak or stand up for yourself, continuing that pattern in adulthood will lead to anxiety.  Never saying how you really feel can be painful and can lead to not getting what you really want as an adult. Not getting your needs met causes anxiety.

Another example is taking on too much responsibility for things.  If you blame yourself for too many things, that becomes a real burden over time and can lead to anxiety.  The need to control can take over, which makes it difficult to be calm and grounded.

Kids blame themselves for things they really have no power over.  Sometimes they tell themselves that they are inadequate, and therefore unlovable and unworthy.  Shame takes over. It’s important to identify what happened in the past and how you dealt with it.  Then you can update your self-image and develop emotional resiliency.

As you begin to be curious about what is coming up inside, instead of being terrified of it, you can express and acknowledge what is bothering you and do something about it.  Pushing it down perpetuates it.

When you aren’t in touch with your inner world, your true essence, you can’t be authentic and you lose yourself.  This can also make it difficult to be true to your own value system and ethical principles. Not being your true self-leads to anxiety and pain.

Calming your Body

Learning to center yourself is an important skill.  This helps you get out of your head and feel grounded in your body.  You can stand and feel your feet on the ground. Notice how strongly planted on the ground you feel, and slowly sway slowly from side to side, noticing how this feels in your body.  Notice where your center is, where in your body you feel the most rooted. You can place both hands flat on your lower belly and sense where you feel the most grounded.

Next, sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor.  Place one hand flat on your chest and the other flat on your forehead and notice how that feels in your body.  You can also put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Try hugging yourself. The purpose is for you to notice your body and how you feel grounded and centered.

Meditation can be very helpful in starting to calm your body.  Meditate using apps such as The Mindfulness App, Headspace, and Insight Timer, you can find them all here: www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps

Even two or three minutes at a time is a good way to start.

Exercise is another way to be more in touch with your body.  Also, stop caffeine, eat a healthy diet and practice deep breathing.

It is important to address addictions since withdrawal is often coupled with anxiety.  The constant cycle of drinking or using marijuana, for example. As the effects wear off, going through anxious withdrawal can make you feel even tenser.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, try some of these sleep apps: www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/top-insomnia-iphone-android-apps#sleep-cycle

Also, aromatherapy, such as lavender, ylang-ylang, and bergamot can help as well as drinking chamomile tea.   www.info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help

I also recommend Neurofeedback and EMDR for treating anxiety.  Neurofeedback will help you feel calm and grounded. EMDR helps you desensitize to and reprocess old hurts and painful events.

If you think that I may be able to help, please reach out to me. You can call me by leaving a confidential voicemail message at 310-314-6933 or email mfoxmft@yahoo.com.