The Struggle in Dealing with Anxiety is Real! How Counseling Can Help
Anxiety is a widespread mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Every day, individuals walk into New Heights Counseling in search of help to cope with intense feelings of anxiety. Anxiety can be racing thoughts and feelings of panic and is characterized by persistent worry, fear, and unease, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, chest pressure, sweating, hot flashes, sweaty palms, tension throughout the body, and restlessness. When we have racing thoughts, things can go from bad to worse by thinking of worse case scenarios. The mind feels like it is on overdrive, and the scenarios worsen. Dealing with anxiety can be an overwhelming and exhausting experience, impacting various aspects of an individual’s life, including their relationships, work performance, and overall well-being. However, there is hope for those grappling with anxiety—the field of counseling offers effective strategies and support to help individuals manage and overcome their anxiety.
Anxiety is a natural stress response that can benefit certain situations as it heightens awareness and prepares the body for potential threats. However, when anxiety becomes chronic and interferes with daily life, it becomes a mental health disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias are common forms of anxiety disorders. If untreated, anxiety can become unbearable and lead to various physical and mental health problems.
The cause of anxiety disorders is still unclear, but research suggests that genetic, environmental, psychological, and biological factors may all play a role in their development. Genetics may be a factor, as certain individuals seem to have a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder than others. Environmental factors such as traumatic experiences or stressful life events can also contribute to anxiety development. Psychological factors such as negative thinking patterns, low self-esteem, and perfectionism can also affect an individual’s level of anxiety. People commonly report they find it difficult to control their emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. Lastly, biological factors such as hormones can also influence an individual’s anxiety levels.
The Struggle of Living with Anxiety
Living with anxiety can be an ongoing battle. Constant worry, fear, and a sense of impending doom can make even simple tasks seem insurmountable. Those clients of New Heights Counseling struggling with anxiety often avoid situations that trigger their anxiety, leading to a restricted and limited life. Relationships can suffer as anxiety can create a barrier to meaningful connections, while work performance may be hindered due to difficulties concentrating and making decisions. Physical health can also be affected, with anxiety contributing to insomnia, digestive issues, and weakened immune function. Seeking help is often the best way to manage and overcome anxiety.
The Role of Counseling in Managing Anxiety
Counseling plays a crucial role in helping individuals with anxiety by providing them with the tools and support needed to manage and overcome their struggles. New Heights therapists use a range of evidence-based approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), to help clients identify, understand, and manage their anxiety. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) may also help clients process traumatic memories and experiences. These therapies are designed to provide individuals with the skills they need to recognize and respond to anxious thoughts and feelings in a healthier way. Through counseling, individuals can learn how to manage their stress better, build resilience, and develop coping strategies. Here are some ways counseling can help:
Identification and Understanding
A trained therapist can help individuals identify their anxiety’s root causes and triggers. Through exploration and self-reflection, clients can better understand their thoughts, emotions, and behavioral patterns associated with anxiety.
Counseling equips individuals with practical coping strategies to manage anxiety symptoms. These may include relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. CBT, in particular, focuses on challenging negative thought patterns and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones.
Dealing with anxiety can be emotionally draining, and having a safe and non-judgmental space to express feelings can be immensely valuable. Therapists provide empathetic support, validating the individual’s experiences and offering guidance on emotional regulation.
Anxiety often leads to avoidance behaviors, which can reinforce the anxiety loop. Counseling helps individuals identify these patterns and gradually face their fears through exposure therapy. With the guidance of a therapist, clients can develop healthier coping mechanisms and break free from the cycle of anxiety.
Counselors can assist individuals in making lifestyle adjustments that support their mental well-being. This may involve implementing regular exercise, improving sleep hygiene, practicing stress management techniques, and adopting healthy coping mechanisms.
Techniques to Implement Throughout the Day
Control your breathing and take deep breaths: Imagine an infant sleeping in their crib. What is their breathing like? If you notice, only their abdomen is going up and down. They are doing what is natural and called diaphragmatic breathing. To do diaphragmatic (or deep breathing), you inhale through your nose while simultaneously expanding your abdomen. Then while you exhale through your mouth, you contract your stomach (suck it in). Repeat this 5-7 times, and you will notice your anxiety lessen.
Be active: I’m not saying to run 5 miles, but I am saying move. Walk around your neighborhood, jump in place, plank for 1 minute, swing your arms for a couple of minutes, or make the motion like you are using a hula hoop. Moving around and being active will distract you from your feelings of anxiousness. Being active teaches your brain that the adrenaline in your body is from activity and not from anxiety.
Manage your anxious thoughts: When your brain starts going down the rabbit hole, and you start to think of the worst-case scenario, stop and ask yourself 1) is there a reason to believe something is wrong 2) what evidence is there that something is wrong 3) is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion Bottom line is ask yourself what is the reality of the situation?
Grounding techniques: Utilize progressive muscle relaxation by identifying that when you are anxious, you are usually tense. When tightening specific body parts, then relaxing them will allow you to feel the relaxation. Another grounding technique is body scanning. This help raises awareness of your body, not feelings of bad, sad, or pleasure but the tightness of muscles, the tingling sensation in your body, etc.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that teaches individuals to slow down, focus on the present moment, and observe their thoughts without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce anxiety levels by allowing people to recognize anxious thought patterns and learn how to respond more calmly. Additionally, it can help individuals become aware of their triggers and develop healthier ways of responding to them.
Participate in a social support group: Having a strong support system is vital in managing anxiety. Building relationships with individuals who can provide emotional and practical support is essential. This can be friends, family, or even a therapist. These relationships will help provide validation and understanding in difficult times. Additionally, attending therapy sessions with friends or family members can offer additional comfort.
Nutrition: A healthy diet is essential for mental well-being. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can provide the body with essential nutrients that are beneficial for both physical and mental health. Research indicates that certain foods can help reduce anxiety levels.
Anxiety Does Not Need to be Debilitating
The struggle in dealing with anxiety is undeniably real, but individuals do not have to face it alone. Counseling offers support, guidance, and practical strategies to help individuals manage their anxiety and regain control over their lives. The counselors at New Heights Counseling are committed to providing the care and support necessary for individuals to gain confidence in their ability to manage anxiety. We strive to provide a safe, supportive, and collaborative space for individuals of all ages with anxiety-related concerns. By understanding the nature of anxiety, identifying triggers, and developing coping mechanisms, you can break free from the grip of anxiety and lead fulfilling lives. Seeking counseling for anxiety is not a sign of weakness but rather an empowering step toward self-care and personal growth. Remember, there is hope, and you can overcome anxiety.
- Anxiety American Psychological Association
- 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder Siri Kabrick, C.N.P. Mayo Clinic Health System
- Can’t Escape Anxiety! by Colleen Wenner, Founder & Director of New Heights Counseling
Other Mental Health Services Offered At New Heights Counseling
The staff at New Heights provides counseling for a wide range of issues such as parenting skills, anger management, anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loss, addiction, abuse, trauma, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, self-esteem, confidence, body image, eating disorders, and many more. Our goal is to help you find the best solution for your situation and we will work together to achieve that goal. We are here to listen and understand what you need so we can give you the tools to make positive changes in your life.
We are located on the 2nd floor of WorkSpace Suites at 1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 1057, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547. Get directions here on Google Maps or visit our office location webpage. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM. Evenings/Weekends by appointments. Call (850)757-1552.
Appointment Schedule (Last appointment – 4 PM)
Monday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Evenings/Weekends by Appointment
About the Author:
Shareen Ancog is a Master’s Level Pre-Licensed Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at New Heights Counseling. She is Level 2 trauma trained in EMDR and devoted to assisting people in overcoming life obstacles. Shareen is dedicated to her clients’ care and services in Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville, Destin, and surrounding communities. Book an appointment with Shareen today HERE!