Having struggled in the past with compulsive worry, I empathize with the many individuals out there who are tormented by anxiety. The constant obsessing and fear of “what ifs” can rob us of enjoying the precious moments that are right in front of us. I have seen many people too afraid to take risks or held “prisoner” by their fear, missing out on all the joy that life has to offer. Although everyone experiences anxiety as a natural reaction to the possibility of danger, for those who become overly anxious, a combination of past experiences and cognitive distortions wreck havoc on the brain and in turn the body, making the danger feel real and imminent.
What price are you paying for your anxiety? Want to stop living this way?
Here are a few tidbits of what I have learned in my personal and professional quest to quiet mine and my clients’ inner worriers. Anxiety is heightened by past traumas, especially emotional abuse. It is never too late to heal and help is available. The key to getting off the worry train begins with self-compassion, recognizing you have value and worth simply for being. Sadly, I’ve observed many clients continue to struggle as they doubt their worthiness to change. Allow yourself to as Susan Jeffers coined it; “Feel the Fear but Do it Anyways.” Remember no one has ever died from a panic attack. Focus on what is within your control and try prayer or visualization to keep your focus on a positive outcome. Retrain your brain through mindfulness and meditations such as Rick Hanson‘s Take in the Good. Did you know you cannot feel anxious and grateful at the same time? So when the worry bug bites, try shifting your attention to all the things and people in your life you are appreciative of or all the beauty in the world in general. Interrupt the paralysis caused by obsessing over worst case scenarios by reality checking and actually planning for the worst. Although we cannot prevent all bad things in our life, we can work towards trusting that no matter what happens we will be okay.
Last year I had the opportunity to design and begin offering Creative Coping; The ABCs of Anxiety and Stress Management for women. I’ve been touched by the courage of my female clients to face their inner demons and take important steps towards getting off the “worry train”. Join us by coming to a walk-in interview Thursdays between 1 and 7 pm.