Are you constantly filled with worry or dread and spend hours ruminating worse case scenarios? Or you do you feel that you don’t want to keep on living if you have to feel like this all the time? As an anxiety therapist in Boca Raton, I hear this comment all of the time from clients who suffer from anxiety. My anxious clients worry that the anxiety will never go away and will overrule their lives.
When clients come to me, I first educate them on what anxiety actually is. I let them know that it is a false alarm in their mind, telling them that something bad is going to happen. But, it’s just their anxiety talking, nothing bad will really happen and it will pass. The important thing here is to have a plan as to how to deal with the anxiety when it happens.
Anxiety can come in many forms. Some clients have reported feeling afraid to drive, others have experienced panic attacks or they wake up feeling anxious every day. Anxiety suffers can worry excessively about their health, their body image, their relationships, their children and spouses. They often imagine worst-case scenarios which only increases their anxious symptoms.
If you are suffering from anxiety, you are not alone. Anxiety Disorder is the most common mental health problem in the United States. 40 million Americans are diagnosed with anxiety. The good news is that it is very treatable. You can learn tools to treat your anxiety and find relief.
You don’t necessarily need to take medication to treat anxiety. Doctors of course are quick to offer medication to treat anxiety. However, then their patients don’t learn the basic methods that can control or even eliminate their symptoms. They never learn the tools to manage their anxiety that will turn up again during their life whenever they go through significant life changes. With Cognitive Therapy, clients will develop the toolbox they need to control their anxiety within a matter of weeks which is the same time it takes for anxiety medication to kick in and start working. Of course, in some clients, if the anxiety is severe, then they will need to go on medication. However, as an anxiety therapist, I always recommend to begin anxiety counseling first for 3-4 weeks before starting medication. If there is little improvement with counseling, then we can address medication at that point.
Here are some of the tips I teach my clients at the beginning of therapy with me:
Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the most effective techniques to ward off anxiety. Breathing has to be practiced every day for 5-10 minutes a day until it becomes automatic. Breathing will slow down the stress response of anxiety if clients will just do it. You can practice breathing anywhere, while you are waiting in line, or at a stop light, or waiting at a Dr’s appointment.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
This exercise is a great way to release tension in your body by doing a body scan from head to toe. You squeeze, hold for three seconds, and then release each part of your body from head to toe. Watch the tension release from your body, and imagine total relaxation. There are some apps that have this like Calm.
3. Talk Back To Your Negative Thoughts:
As I said before, anxiety causes catastrophic thinking which means anxious clients imagine worst case scenarios. This increases their anxiety. Clients learn to identify these thoughts and talk back to them. This is their anxiety talking and they are not going to let their anxiety overpower them. I tell them they will become their own therapist, and they often laugh because they don’t believe me, but they eventually do because they learn to manage and overcome their anxiety!
4.Taking care of your body:
It is important for clients to not only take care of their minds, but their bodies. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and sugar can increase anxiety symptoms. Eliminating these triggers is crucial because anxiety symptoms are physical and by eliminating them, clients can calm their body. Managing the body first is a priority throughout the treatment of anxiety. Also, having a routine of self-care that includes healthy eating, exercise and sleep is also necessary.
As you can see, anxiety treatment is very treatable without medication. Developing a plan and a toolbox to treat your anxiety, will give you self-confidence and a sense of power because you will be in control of your feelings. You will be able to conquer anxiety through your own efforts. The best part is you will have this toolbox and plan forever, it will be part of your repertoire, that you will own for life and can use whenever anxiety rears its ugly head again.
If you are struggling with anxiety and have tried to work on it on your own and it hasn’t worked, please call me at 561-203-9280. As an anxiety therapist in Boca Raton, I have helped hundreds of clients successfully eliminate their anxiety and find peace again!