Anxiety: Your Friend?

Anxiety: Your Friend?

Anxiety and panic attacks are uncomfortable. Sometimes anxiety is so physically uncomfortable that people experience heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing, or faintness. Sometimes anxiety symptoms worry someone so much that they call 911 or take themselves to the emergency room, only to be turned away after being assured that the problem is “just” anxiety.

In the counseling office, counselors often hear clients eager to alleviate and rid themselves entirely of anxiety. Certainly, relief would be nice, and some coping skills would be helpful. But what if honoring feelings of anxiety may help (in the end) to decrease anxiety? Before you say goodbye to your anxiety, consider the reasons why feeling anxious might be to your benefit.

Feeling anxiety may…

  • Be a catalyst for change.

People may feel persistently anxious when when something in their life needs to change. For example, if you err on the side of workaholism, burnout is a very real risk. Anxiety is your body’s way of signaling overload. It is alerting you to a need to say “no” to something on your plate. It can prompt you to challenge your list of have-to obligations.

  • Help you acclimate to new things.

Anxiety can be a sign that you are outside of your comfort zone. Anytime you do something new, anxiety is there to help you get your bearings, watch for “danger,” and minimize risk. Often, the more that you repeatedly experience being out of your comfort zone in a specific way, the more your comfort zone expands, and the less you need anxiety to help you be watchful.

  • Be self-honoring and validating.

When you tell yourself to “stop feeling anxious,” you are sending a message that there is something “bad” or wrong happening. That self-talk message can create a form of secondary anxiety– anxiety about having anxiety! These worried thoughts about the anxiety itself can increase tension (and add in guilt or shame), rather than alleviate stress. Instead, if you tell yourself that it’s okay to feel nervous or be panicked, they can begin to feel more okay with themselves and honor the good reasons why they might be anxious.

  • Ease a panic attack.

Most of the time, panic attacks are triggered by something stressful in your environment, then made worse by “danger” thoughts about the panic itself. Common catastrophic thoughts experienced during a panic attack include (but aren’t limited to):

  • “I shouldn’t be so anxious.”
  • “I’m having a heart attack.”
  • “Why is this happening again?”
  • “I’m going to faint.”
  • “I’m going to die.”
  • “My panic attack will never end. I can’t handle this.”

Panicked thoughts about your body’s experience of anxiety only make you more afraid. These thoughts feed your panic and make it difficult for your body to calm. In fact, how long a panic attack lasts might be somewhat in your control. If you can stop scaring yourself with catastrophic thoughts (or should-thoughts), the adrenaline from your fight-or-flight reaction will wear itself out in a few minutes.

Instead, try not to ignore what you’re feeling. Notice and feel the sensations of your anxiety or panic. Assure yourself that the feelings aren’t harmful (because they’re usually not). Don’t fight the feelings, but imagine yourself surfing them like a wave. The more you resist, the higher your anxiety; the more you accept what you’re feeling, the more quickly it can pass.

  • Increase Performance (at low to moderate levels)

Certainly high or persistent anxiety can be more of a hindrance than a help. However, at occasional low-to-moderate levels, anxiety prepares your body for action in a more productive manner. It increases drive, focus, clarity, strength, and stamina on intellectually stimulating tasks.

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that is safe (and helpful) for you to feel. Let yourself feel your feelings, but then move on. Anxiety has a tendency to take over if it becomes your primary focus. Stay engaged in practice of living life. A mental health counselor can help you build a customized tool box for coping (and making friends) with anxiety.

Want to read more about Anxiety? Check out these posts:

All about EMDR as Trauma Therapy

All about EMDR as Trauma Therapy

Have you heard of EMDR? Among therapists, it’s all the rage as an up-and-coming, evidenced based approach for trauma treatment. Because it is different than standard talk therapy, we thought you might have some questions. We’d love to help demystify EMDR as a form of trauma treatment.

 

What is EMDR?

Standing for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR is a specialized kind of therapy that allows traumatic memories to become desensitized, losing some of their emotional intensity. EMDR is an 8 step process. That process does NOT begin with the trauma processing itself. Instead, the therapist ensures that you have a stockpile of effective coping skills and resources to aid you in the trauma processing experience prior to beginning any sort of trauma processing. The goal throughout the therapy is to provide relief to trauma triggers and not to re-traumatize you in the re-telling of experiences. Only once a clear plan has been developed and coping skills are in place will the therapist guide you through the re-processing experience. Re-processing often involves specialized eye movements that the therapists guides you through while you simultaneously access a specific traumatic memory or severe fear. The two elements use both halves of your brain to more effectively neutralize the negative emotions and desensitizing the memory. The goal of EMDR is not to erase the memory, it’s to reprogram it so that it’s less traumatic.

 

What conditions can EMDR help with?

There are a lot of different situations in which EMDR can be helpful, making it popular for therapists and counselors around the world. It is best known for helping those clients who are recovering from a traumatic experience or those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, research is indicating that EMDR may also be helpful with conditions such as anxiety/panic disorders, grief, severe fears or phobias, and even “common” problems such as self-esteem issues or anger issues.

 

How is it helpful with trauma?

There are a lot of ways the EMDR can be helpful to dealing with trauma. This specific kind of therapy can not only help someone heal from a trauma experience, but also improve their quality of life. For example, EMDR can be helpful with:

  • Identifying the root memory: One key step in the EMDR process is uncovering where the trauma comes from, which can be helpful in understand when, where, and how it started.
  • Processing the memory in a healthy way: EMDR is all about seeing the memory from a different point of view in terms of making it less traumatic and overwhelming. This perspective shifting plays a major role in the healing process.
  • Improving your quality of life:  EMDR tends to be helpful in reducing trauma triggers and reducing the impacts of trauma in your life.

 

What are the risks of EMDR therapy?

EMDR does not come without potential risks. Though EMDR tends to be gentle and stress-reducing, there is a potential risk of an increase in flashbacks, nightmares, or anxiety, usually in the short-term. Other memories may also resurface as trauma processing starts up that may be distressing. If you are in recovery from an addiction, EMDR processing may trigger feelings that, in the past, may have lead to a relapse. If you are a person in recovery (or actively use substances to cope with feelings), this will be something you should disclose to your therapist.

The EMDR therapists on the Star Meadow Counseling team will fully review the risks and benefits of EMDR therapy with you in helping determine if it is a therapeutic approach that might be a fit for you.

EMDR can offer real results for people dealing with trauma. For those looking for options alternative to traditional talk therapy, this may just be the right fit.

 

Want to read more from our blog? Check out one of these articles:

All about EMDR as Trauma Therapy

Have you heard of EMDR? Among therapists, it’s all the rage as an up-and-coming, evidenced based approach for trauma treatment. Because it is different than standard talk therapy, we thought you might have some questions. We’d love to help demystify EMDR...

Counseling: Hope for Those that Are Suffering

Suffering. It’s the reason most people come to counseling. It comes in varying intensity, duration, and complication.   What’s your brand of suffering? Is it… Anxiety that’s no longer manageable? Sadness that’s stuck around too long? Grief that’s shaken...

7 Ways a Counselor Helps Facilitate Change

It is a mistake to assume that someone is ready to make a change, just because they tell you they’re thinking about it. Change is more complicated than Nike’s “Just do it!” slogan. Counselors know that lasting change builds over time. Many counselors use a strategy...

7 Top Mental Health Podcasts

7 Top Mental Health Podcasts

Are you looking for a podcast to help you take better care of yourself and your mental health? I love the convenience of a podcast— It’s self-care you can access in your car, while you wash the dishes, or take the dog for a walk. Self-care is critically important to a well-rounded and satisfying life!  Podcasts help with self-care in a way that only modern technology is able to do.

Let’s have a look at seven popular mental health podcasts that are waiting to show you the way:

1. The Hilarious World of Depression: Calling it out like it is, this podcast series is intended to bring the light to the often too-dark world of depression by combining it with humor.  If you’re looking for a education on mental health, specifically depression, and you want to enjoy it even on your darkest days, this free podcast is something to check out.  Find more information waiting for you at:https://www.facebook.com/thwod/

2. Headspace: Finding inner peace could be as simple as finding the right podcast to lead you down the path to relaxation.  Headspace is a popular due to its mobile app focus.  It offers guided meditation in both short and long sessions to fit every part of your life. It’s a favorite podcast for those struggling with stress and anxiety. Podcasts and blog posts can also be listened to and read, respectively, for free if looking for a more immersive experience.  Find more information at:https://www.headspace.com

3. Good Life Project: Listen to uplifting conversations with some of the biggest names in wellness– Brene Brown, Gretchen Rubin, Tim Ferriss, and more! The Good Life Project shares a new interview every week. When looking at something that is going to fit into your social media world and offer you a community to support you on your rough days, Good Life Project has got what you want.  They also offer a Facebook-based mental health group is a just that: a private community of people at all stages in mental health focus and you can belong to it and give and take within the group for free.  Offering a little bit of everything in focus, this is great for those that need to see the community they’re a part of. Learn more at: https://www.goodlifeproject.com/about/

4. Feeling Good: When you want a book to start you off on an adventure of podcasts centered on understanding mental health and depression in a positive and immersive way, look no further than the world of Feeling Good to offer it to you.  With many years of experience, Dr. Burns shares advice in his book,Feeling Good, and combines this with podcast material for free on his website.  Great for a dash of traditional meets modern.  Find more waiting for you at: https://feelinggood.com/about/

5. The Mental Illness Happy Hour: In hour-long sessions you’ll find helpful advice and uplifting messages focused on addiction, depression, and more.  You can listen to podcasts for free that are up to a year old and subscribe via Stitcher to listen to new ones for a monthly fee.  Take a look at it for yourself at: http://mentalpod.com

6. Food Psych: A first step to feeling good is fueling your body.  More and more people are stuck in chronic dieting, leading to weight cycling that is harmful to your physical and mental health.  Find relief from diet culture, fat shaming, and other disturbing societal norms.  Food psych takes firm hold on these concepts, using the latest research, helping each listener learn about having a healthy relationship with food that spills over into accepting and loving your body in a way that is healthy on all fronts. Have you been curious about the Health at Every Size movement or Intuitive Eating approach? Learn more here.  It’s waiting for you with a membership of $47 for access to two seasons of this innovative podcast and bonus content, or simply enjoy the free weekly interviews.  Find more at: https://christyharrison.com/foodpsych/

7. Body Kindness: What if loving yourself was as simple as learning to love yourself for all of your good and bad parts?  That’s exactly what Body Kindness offers.  From talking about food to relationships and everything in between, this podcast will help you on your way to a better understanding of yourself.  You’ll learn to love your body and practice respectful ways of caring and nourishing it.  Weekly podcasts are free to listening and you can also look for one-on-one consultation or invest in a $20 book on body kindness.  For more information, please look to: https://www.bodykindnessbook.com/podcast/

Before the internet-based world, mental health was something that you needed to struggle with on your own, but these seven option offer you seven ways to get in charge of yourself and your mental health in healthy and accessible ways.  Pick you favorite podcast and start transforming your life for the better today!

 

Here are some of our other blog articles you might like:

Anxiety: Your Friend?

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How to Ruminate Purposefully

Do your thoughts ever end up stuck in the past, replaying a conversation or event in your head? Susan Nolen-Hoeksema from Yale University describes ruminating as “a mode of responding to distress that involves repetitively and passively focusing on symptoms of...

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The 12 Best Mental Health Apps

Modern technology can be an amazing supplement to professional counseling. Check out these 12 Apps that come recommended for recovery from depression, eating disorders, PTSD, insomnia, and anxiety. DEPRESSION RECOVERY APPS 1.     Pacifica (mood-focused...

5 Benefits of Mindfulness

5 Benefits of Mindfulness

There are a lot of terms floating around the online world out there and it can be difficult to determine which ones to trust as the real deal and which ones are simply trigger words or click bait.  One of the up-and-coming ones is mindfulness.  As more and more experts start to discuss it in relation to its positive effects with both depression and anxiety, it’s important to understand what’s really waiting behind this term.

 

What is mindfulness?

At its most basic level, mindfulness is exactly how it sounds: the idea of knowing your mind at the minute detail level within the present moment.  Being mindful means that you are listening to your thought process, acknowledging and identifying your emotions and simply being aware of what’s going on inside of you.  This is often combined with the idea of meditation or yoga or something that can help your focus on what’s going on within yourself.

The reality is that mindfulness can be present in many forms and on its own or in combination with meditation.  Regardless of how it is present, it is a healing process that has many benefits to its name.

 

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

  1. It’s free:Maybe it’s not the first benefit you’d think of, but mindfulness is totally 100% free. You can do it as often as you need to and it won’t charge you per use or per dosage.  For those that really enjoy it and find it helpful, this is a major perk.  It is also free from addiction or dependency in an unhealthy way.

 

  1. It’s easy to do wherever you are:Whether you are in the privacy of a bedroom or meditation space, a crowded shopping mall or anywhere in between, mindfulness is something you can practice just about anywhere and it is going to be able to offer you that comfort when you need it.  It’s also discrete which is good when you need a little bit of help in a busy spot.

 

  1. It has quantifiable results with both anxiety and depression:There are proven results – with more studies being done currently – on its positive effects with anxiety and depression, both. When used in combination with other therapies or even in place of medication, there are substantial increases in quality of life for those with anxiety and/or depression.  This is particularly helpful in teens who are not looking to engage with medication right away or adults with addiction concerns.

 

  1. It treats physical symptoms as well:There are also benefits on the physical side when it comes to practicing mindfulness such as with IBS and psoriasis.  While a lot of dependable studies have still yet to come, it seems as though mindfulness can be helpful across many playing fields, offering an actual option for those who suffer from both mental and physical health concerns.

 

  1. Can be a long-term additional therapeutic option:While mindfulness may not be considered a full treatment on its own for depression, anxiety, PTSD and more, it can be used in accordance with other therapies to offer prolonged relief and help in times of crisis from common mental health illnesses.

 

Mindfulness is popular online in social and professional circles for all of the right reasons.  As it continues to enjoy an online presence, more and more quantifiable research is going into its healing effects in mental and physical health to see how it can be exercised as a professional treatment option.  Time will tell just how useful it can be long-term, but it clearly has got a lot going for it already and makes it something that you’re going to want to know about.

Counseling: Hope for Those that Are Suffering

Counseling: Hope for Those that Are Suffering

Suffering. It’s the reason most people come to counseling. It comes in varying intensity, duration, and complication.

 

What’s your brand of suffering? Is it…

  • Anxiety that’s no longer manageable?
  • Sadness that’s stuck around too long?
  • Grief that’s shaken you to your core?
  • A relationship in distress?
  • A trauma that haunts you?
  • Burnout?
  • Physical pain that disheartens you?
  • A loss of faith or hope?
  • The experience of systemic oppression?
  • Something else?

 

Human suffering is diverse and multifaceted.  It can be emotional, spiritual, physical, cognitive, societal, or relational. Suffering is also a universal part of what makes us human.

 

Suffering is an internal alarm that something is not right. It’s the toothache that reminds you to see the dentist if you’ve been skipping your check-ups. It’s the “check engine” light that urges you to see your auto mechanic if you’ve skipped the routine tune ups.

 

In the world of mental health counseling, people rarely (if ever) come in for mental health “check ups” when things are otherwise “fine” in life. Much more frequently, they develop a backlog of suffering that builds until their emotions are loud enough to get their attention. The volume of their emotional suffering is what prompts people to seek help.

 

Suffering is a primary source of motivation for people. It’s the thing that breaks down barriers, allowing a person to finally allow in help.

 

Not only does suffering motivate people to reach out for help initially, but it also spurs on the entire change process in therapy. It creates a sense of urgency and readiness for change. It will be what prompts you to follow up on the homework your therapist assigns. It will be what reminds you that the hard work you’ll do toward change is worth it.

 

Let’s be real: The goal of counseling is not to eliminate suffering altogether. That would be impossible. Instead, counselors equip clients to manage their own daily struggles and pain effectively, using the resources learned in sessions.

 

In counseling, you can develop healthy strategies for coping with suffering which do not involve denying or avoiding it. You might even find a strength in the midst of your suffering like perseverance, drive, character, or hope.

 

If you are experiencing a brand of suffering that’s leading you to ask for help, a counselor with Star Meadow Counseling is available to help. Call us (360-952-3070) or schedule an appointment online.