Anxiety is a natural human emotion that everyone experiences. Anxiety can also get us very stuck and stop us from living a life that we want.
Physical sensations of Anxiety
You may have noticed that very unpleasant physical sensations can accompany anxiety, such as:
- Racing heart
- Trembling or Shaking
- Dry mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Pins and needles
- Bowel changes
These sensations can show up in different situations, perhaps in a social setting or when you are trying to go to sleep. Anxiety often shows up in moments of uncertainty.
Types of Anxiety
Here are common types of anxiety that might get you stuck and interfere with you moving towards what you care about.
If you find yourself stuck in a pattern of social anxiety, the core fear is one of embarrassment. You might do everything you can to avoid feeling embarrassed, for example avoid that party you were invited to, avoid speaking up in a meeting at work, or avoid asking someone out on a date.
If you struggle with generalized anxiety you may notice that your mind worries a lot about different things. Maybe your mind worries about your family and friends judging you, or of something dangerous happening to yourself or someone you care about. Your mind might also worry about your health and whether or not you will get sick in the future. Minds can be great at worrying, and there are no limits to what our minds might worry about.
Panic shows up when your fight or flight system gets activated, either out of the blue or due to some event. You might start thinking that you are dying or going crazy, as the physical sensations are so distressing. You may start to structure your life around avoiding or escaping anything that might bring on a panic attack.
If you find yourself very fearful of one thing in particular you might be struggling with a specific phobia. Specific phobias can vary greatly from snakes to tiny balls of paper. You might find yourself stuck by a phobia when you start avoiding people or places for fear that you might come into contact with what scares you.
How Can Therapy Help with My Anxiety?
In therapy, we would start by exploring how exactly anxiety is getting in the way of you living the life you want to live. If anxiety were no longer a problem for you, what would you want to move towards that does not seem possible right now? The answers to this question will be the guide for our work together.
The second piece is learning skills to better handle anxiety when it shows up – you will learn how to cope with uncertainty so that you can move towards what matters to you. In my practice I use the evidence-based approach of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).