40 Million Americans Have It? Do You?
Yup, about 40 million of us, or 19% of the United States population, suffer from anxiety.* Are you one of them?
In fact, most of my clients come in telling me they have been diagnosed (or have self-diagnosed) with anxiety disorder. Many, like myself, take some sort of prescriptive medicine to help them live with their anxiety. If there is an epidemic, I would declare anxiety as an epidemic. It doesn’t even seem to matter your age as it appears in young children to older adults. In fact, most anxiety is diagnosed by age 14.
What Exactly is Anxiety?
For some it is constant worry, although worry on its own is not anxiety. You may have a worry or concern about a problem and you come up with a solution.
Worry, generally, resolves itself with solution, anxiety is persistent. (Find out more about Anxiety, what causes it, and how to live with it.)
The Left and Right of it All
Let’s look at it this way. In very, very simple terms – you have a left and a right side – also called the Ying and the Yang – Male and Female sides of your body. In fact, you have a Left and a Right side of your brain. (Remember the book, Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain by Betty Edwards that was all about using the other side of your brain to create art?)
Therefore, know that it is like the two different sides of our brain working together to help us solve our problems. One half sees the problem and the other half comes up with a
workable solution. This works in absolute harmony – until it doesn’t. That is when the worry/concern/problem becomes all you can think about.
It consumes your every thought. You ruminate over it and cannot find the solution or off button. This is when we become anxious. The problem becomes our entire focus of attention.
How Do We Find the OFF Button?
There are actually many different ways of finding the OFF button. Or as I prefer to say it, turn ON the other side of our brain – the solution side. I like to use NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) exercises. These are exercises that cross polarity – left and right sides. These are simple, easy to learn, and you can do them at any time. No one has to even know you are doing them. Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) also helps. I teach both of these as well as breathing exercises in my office. All of these tend to turn on both sides of your brain so you are back in harmony with problem/solution functions working together.
How Does Anxiety Manifest in Your Life?
Everyone is different. For some, anxiety only happens when faced with being in a crowd, meeting new people, being in unfamiliar territory. This is often called “social anxiety.” This is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Sometimes people who have social anxiety are titled (incorrectly) as “shy” or “introverted.” This may or may not be correct. An interesting TED talk on Social Anxiety explains even more.
For other people anxiety shows up when having to make a decision or with medical procedures or situations in which there is a lack of feeling in control.
How Do I Know What Anxiety Feels Like?
Good question! We often mislabel things. Briefly, anxiety usually manifests in our body in the following ways:
- Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge.
- Being easily fatigued.
- Having difficulty concentrating.
- Being irritable.
- Having headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains.
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry – ruminating.
- Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Note: These might be signs of other issues and only a professional can diagnose anxiety disorder.
Where Does Anxiety Come From?
For most people, anxiety is often caused by unresolved childhood experiences. In my years of practice, I have found that most anxiety stems back to a painful childhood. Frequently, anxiety is combined with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – diagnosed by a professional). However, difficult experiences in childhood, adolescence or adulthood are a common trigger for anxiety problems. Going through stress and trauma when you’re very young is likely to have a particularly big impact. Experiences which can trigger anxiety problems include things like:
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Neglect and/or poverty
- Losing a parent (often feelings include abandonment)
- Being bullied or socially excluded
- Experiencing racism
- Having parents who don’t treat you warmly or are overprotective
Meditation and Anxiety
We have all heard that one of the best things we can do for anxiety is to begin meditating. In fact, meditating has become the cure for almost everything. And yet when we think of meditating, we often become even more anxious. “I can’t meditate because ____________.” We fill in the blank with:
- I don’t have time
- I suffer from Monkey Mind
- I tried it but couldn’t sit still that long
- I live in a home with too many distractions
- It’s hard on my body to sit still that long
- I tried it, but it didn’t work for me.
The truth is, meditating is not that difficult. I have extreme Monkey Mind (yes, I have ADD), but there are many different ways to meditate.
- Petting a dog or cat or another furry friend
- Knitting or crocheting
- Painting or other art
- Listening to music
- Taking a walk
To find out more about meditating – and how easy it is – listen to this TED talk.
Other Ideas that Help
There are many different ways to deal with anxiety. Health experts suggest practicing mindfulness, exercise, journaling, and/or talking about it with a professional. I often find that anxiety is rooted in trauma and that dealing with this unfinished business can eliminate a great deal of anxiety.
All of these therapies are tools. None of them will eliminate anxiety from your life. WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING! Anxiety might be your SOMETHING.
Instead of fighting it or wishing it would go away, the tools you learn help you to understand and live with it. Make anxiety your friend – your weird friend – but your friend. Talk to it, accept it, learn the tools to deal with this weird friend. Wise Heart Coaching & Hypnosis works with clients frequently who believe their anxiety is a burden or disease. Many think there is something “wrong” with them. There is nothing wrong with them – or you – or me. It is our something.
I would love to teach you the tools to help you with your anxiety. Let’s start 2023 with the tools to build our house of support so that anxiety does not blow our house down.
And if you find yourself in the frustrating position of dealing with symptoms of long COVID, I understand because I am also dealing with this.
While I’ve been searching for solutions, I learned that Relaxation Techniques is being recommended by medical professionals. Of course, you may have other issues that need medications or mental health therapy, but I’d really like to help those going through this painful time with a Long COVID special offer.
Two 90 minute Relaxation Sessions, which includes coaching, relaxation techniques, hypnosis, and a recording for you to take home. You’ll leave our sessions with a way for you to keep up with this technique on your recovery journey on your own.
Click HERE to schedule your Free 30-Minute Discovery Session!