Anxiety is a normal part of being human. You might feel anxious before a first date, before a big presentation at work, or as you prepare for a difficult conversation with your spouse. In some cases, this anxiety is helpful in that it assists in mobilizing the resources in the body needed to function well (e.g. changes in blood flow in the brain might help focus on one task and block out everything else, it may make some emotions more prominent which could act as a motivator to get started on a project). However, past a certain threshold (which is different for everyone), anxiety is no longer helpful and, in fact, can make day-to-day living more difficult.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Everyone’s experience with anxiety is different but there are some common symptoms that occur in several areas. For example, a cognitive symptom you may experience is feeling unable to stop thinking – especially when not distracted by something else – or thinking about worst-case scenario in the current circumstance. Physical symptoms may include a racing heart, muscle tension, shallow/quick breathing, stomach discomfort, or trembling extremities. Emotionally, you may feel an overwhelming sense of dread, irritation, sadness or other emotions that may not be comfortable. Behaviourally, you might notice yourself avoiding anxiety-producing environments or you may notice that how you react to people or situations may change (e.g. snapping at colleagues or loved ones).
How can counselling help?
Together we can explore your symptoms, what might trigger them, your history with anxiety, and how it impacts your life currently. The strategies we use to help manage the anxiety will be different from person to person but they may include exploring any thoughts that might maintain or intensify the anxiety, teaching techniques that will change your physical anxious response (which might also lessen other types of symptoms), and assessing for ways that you might already be managing anxiety that could be enhanced or strengthened.
When should I book a counselling appointment?
If you feel that anxiety is a concern in your life–whether it’s a small annoyance or an overwhelming experience, consider booking a free 15 minute Meet and Greet with our Psychologist: Amy Van Deurzen.