The Safe Place

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What Is Anxiety?

Author: Suzanne Wirth  Date: 2014-11-05

Imagine yourself in deep water, so deep that you cannot see the surface. Now imagine that you’ve run out of air and are struggling to resurface. That is how anxiety can feel. Being anxious is more than not feeling quite right. It is a pervasive feeling that something is very wrong with a sense of dread. People often think that anxiety is something that is easily treated, but it is not. When a person is experiencing anxiety they are often unable to put their feelings in to words. Without being able to define the problem they are often blocked from finding a solution. Anxiety can be all consuming. If you or a loved one is experiencing this please reach for some kind of help immediately. Having an anxiety problem is different from feeling momentarily anxious over let’s say a dental appointment or perhaps a job interview. A person with chronic anxiety knows what their triggers are and shrinks their life to avoid those situations. Such as not being able to take an elevator and choosing instead to always use the stairs. It’s with you daily as you plan your day.

A lot of times people with chronic anxiety are given some sort of prescription to manage their feelings. I am all for help, but if you do not deal with the underlying issues with a counselor or a friend the issues will keep coming back. Think about trying to push a ball underwater and how it keeps popping back up no matter how hard you push. This is what it is like when we internalize our feelings. Keep this thought in the back of your head; sometimes in life we have to fight through the bad days to earn the best days of our life. Believe that your days can and will get better. Open up and tell someone how you are feeling and what you have been thinking.

Remember that the problem with anxiety is that people cannot see it on the outside so to the public you look fine. It’s not like a broken leg with a giant purple cast that makes people say “ouch, you hurt your leg hope you get better soon.” Anxiety can lead to many other problems in life so you need to address it as soon as it becomes more than a once in awhile problem. Remember to allow your feelings to surface and then explore what thoughts of yours are helping to create them. There are a few kinds of anxiety that are caused by our bodies when something is not working right, like our thyroid gland, but most are caused by our thoughts. Once we uncover those thoughts we can evaluate whether or not they have validity.

As a coping method thinking about the good things in your life and writing them down can help. Oprah called this a gratitude journal. In addition to the journaling, experiment with rewarding yourself with something that you love such as going for a walk, or reading a good book. Anything you enjoy will help you step out of the moment of feeling trapped. These are temporary solutions. In addition to them reach out for help from your Doctor and a trusted friend, a relative, a minister or a counselor. Life without anxiety is much more enjoyable.