It is a normal human experience to feel some anxiety at times. Anxiety is a survival response that helps us to be on guard, alert and respond to danger. Anxiety can happen in response to real threats or in response to imagined threats and internal worries. While some anxiety is a normal part of life, when anxiety becomes overpowering or chronic, it can begin to really interfere with your happiness, your relationships, work, self care and other areas of your life.
Common Symptoms of Anxiety
- Nervousness, tension and restlessness
- A sense of impending danger or dread
- Constant high heart rate
- Rapid breathing, sweating and trembling
- Difficulty concentrating
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Avoiding or putting off things that make you worry
- Panic attacks
- An experience of feeling constantly stressed
Why we get anxiety:
Anxiety responses are generated by the brain to help us take action or avoid threats. While this can be helpful at times (think about avoiding running into the street and getting hit by a car), anxiety responses can also become over-activated, like a faulty fire alarm. When this happens, powerful fight-or-flight responses in the body, as well as worry-full thought patterns can turn anxiety responses into a feedback loop. We think worried thoughts, which trigger fight or flight responses in the brain, which in turn activate the release of anxiety neurochemicals in the body along with other fight or fight responses in the nervous system. These nervous system responses then cause the brain to fire with more anxiety, which activates more worried thinking – and round and round it goes.
How counselling can help:
One of the areas that counselling is most effective in is reducing anxiety. Anxiety is incredibly treatment responsive and using proven strategies from evidence based therapy models, we can help with interfering in the feedback loop of anxiety.
Our therapists draw from a number of evidence based therapeutic modalities, including:
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: This involves having a look at the kind of thoughts that run through your head and reflecting on whether those thoughts are helpful and uplifting, or whether they create even more anxiety for yourself. Learning how to choose carefully what you focus on, how you think about challenges in life, and how to think encouraging thoughts can make a world of a difference for how you feel.
- Mindfulness Based CBT: Mindfulness based practices are powerful strategies in order to help your nervous system flow to a calmer state. Mindfulness based practices help slow you down in this hectic and fast-paced world, be more focused and grounded, and most importantly, enjoy everyday moments more thoroughly. They are designed to help you get off the hamster wheel of reactivity that we can get stuck in and choose a new way of engaging life.
- EMDR: Oftentimes, clients will have experienced anxiety for many years. Sometimes this is due to stressful or traumatic life experiences, and even adverse childhood experiences that have left a finger print on their nervous system. EMDR is a therapeutic modality that helps resolve those trauma reactions. You can read about it more here.