Is Anxiety Running Your Life?
Are you or your teenager struggling with general nervousness, persistent fears and/or body sensations, such as tightness in the chest or shortness of breath, that make you feel uncomfortable, on edge or even panicked? Do you often feel unsettled, unable to relax and have trouble sleeping? It may be that you feel pressured to perform well, yet struggle to concentrate and never feel good enough. Maybe you’re highly self-critical, holding yourself to high standards and striving for perfection. Or maybe you feel stuck in looping thoughts and ongoing worries about your family, work, health, the future, etc., and find it nearly impossible to slow down. It might be that you struggle with performance and/or social anxiety, which holds you back from living a full and satisfying life. Do you wish you could relax, truly believing that everything is and will be okay?
Living with heightened anxiety can be a frustrating, confusing and isolating experience. You might routinely scan for danger or be so caught up in worrisome thoughts that it’s hard for you to stay present and focus. Relationships may be challenging, especially if no one understands why you feel so on edge. Perhaps you’re trying to hide your anxiety from family members, friends and colleagues. Or, it might be that your anxiety is in check, but you’re increasingly concerned about your teenager, especially if he or she is isolating more and more, irritable or struggling with body image, social and/or academic issues. Maybe your child has always been slightly anxious, but the anxiety seems to be worsening as adolescence marches on, and you worry that it’s starting to significantly affect his or her emotional wellbeing and ability function. Do you wish you knew how to calm anxious thoughts and feelings and best support yourself and those around you?
Anxiety Is Extremely Common In Our Culture
If you or your teenager are struggling with anxiety, you are far from alone. Anxiety problems are the most commonly diagnosed mental health issues in the U.S., impacting more than 40 million American adults every year (almost 20 percent of the population). Teen anxiety is on the rise, too, with statistics showing that roughly 25 percent of 13-18-year-olds struggle with at least mild to moderate anxiety.
Given today’s go-go-go mentality, the prominence of social media and high expectations to always be plugged in, available and “on,” it’s no surprise that so many Americans suffer from acute stress and anxiety. With our nervous systems constantly activated, many of us feel as though we’re in a perpetual state of fight/flight/freeze, even when no immediate danger is present. We set high expectations for ourselves and constantly compare ourselves to the perfect—albeit constructed—lives depicted on social media sites, and then beat ourselves up when we fall short. These self-critical beliefs can leave us feeling even more disconnected from the people around us and feeling unworthy, ineffective, unneeded or without any real purpose.
So many of us are also walking around with unresolved traumas that breed feelings of anxiety, depression, addictions and interpersonal relationship problems, to name a few. And, although we tend to heal in relationship with others and can derive a sense of safety through both physical and emotional connection, we’re spending less time in the company of others and more time engaged in technology, on social media sites and as avatars in virtual games. And, when we do spend time together, we often end up feeling more anxious—especially around other anxious people—as our nervous systems are connected and anxiety is contagious. With this paradox at play, it can feel hard to find any relief from anxiety.
The good news is that you can find relief. While anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed mental health issue, it is also the most commonly managed, mitigated and even overcome. With the help of a skilled and understanding anxiety therapist, you can understand your experience of anxiety, learn to regulate your nervous system and move forward feeling calm, confident and connected.
Anxiety Counseling Provides You With Guidance, Support and Strategies For Relief
I believe that you have the inherent capacity to feel relaxed, healthy and whole—it’s just a matter of discovering what works specifically for you. In calm and supportive anxiety therapy sessions, you have a safe space to voice your experience with anxiety, allow it to surface, feel it in your body and get to the root(s) of its origin. The mind and body are interconnected and often fuel each other—especially when it comes to anxiety—and it’s often said that what we resist persists. Rather than continuing to resist anxiety, you can learn to move with it rather than against it, which can lead to both immediate and sustained relief.
Although anxiety is so common, we all experience it differently and heal in different ways, which is why I’ll create an anxiety treatment plan that best addresses your unique experience and history with anxiety, needs, values and therapy goals. Depending on what resonates with you, we can explore mindfulness techniques that can help you ground into the present moment and become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, body sensations and your five senses. Even just a slight increase in sense perception can help you come into your body, feeling safe and connected to what is around you. Throughout our process together—both in sessions and outside of them—I’ll encourage you to notice when you feel safe, experience beauty or enjoy an otherwise calming or uplifting moment. When you catch a positive feeling, the goal will be to learn to stay with it and eventually intensify it, which, when practiced regularly, can replace anxiety and become your new default.
In sessions, we can also identify, explore and challenge the underlying beliefs that you have about yourself that fuel your anxiety rather than serve your best self. As we examine the self-critic, I can help you work through pressing challenges and concerns. And, together, we’ll uncover your strengths and devise effective strategies and actionable steps that you can take to where you want to be. We can also use LENS therapy, a neurofeedback system that restores that brain to optimal performance and leads to decreased anxiety, better focus, increased energy and improved mood. And, I can offer you other relaxation, breathing and mindfulness techniques that will help you help you in the moments when heightened anxiety sets in so you can avoid panic attacks, perform to your potential and experience an overall sense of calm.
I know through more than three decades of treating anxiety that it is possible to work through anxious thoughts and feelings and experience more ease, confidence, self-acceptance and compassion. As you develop increased resiliency and personal awareness, you can embrace who you are rather than dwell on perceived shortcomings and what others may or may not think. You can recognize that everything is impermanent, including your anxiety, and focus more on the present than worry about the future. With practical guidance and compassionate support, it is possible to develop the insight, perspective and skills needed to experience more joy in life and confidently deal with whatever comes your way.
You still may wonder if counseling for anxiety is right for you…
I’m afraid that talking about my anxiety will make me feel worse.
It’s not uncommon to be apprehensive about anxiety therapy, especially if you’ve never tried it before. And, since anxiety creates worries, experiences—including therapy—almost always seem much worse in anticipation than in the actual experience. However, when working with me, I can help you gently move past this and other fears. I’m not afraid of your experience, and within a safe therapeutic relationship, you can become less afraid. I also see you as brave. It takes courage, strength and innate wisdom to know when you need help. And, we all need help sometimes.
We all have issues and problems. I should be able to handle this on my own.
Again, we all need help sometimes. And, although you might be able to work though anxious thoughts and feelings on your own, I can help you become aware of blind spots, give you a safe place to voice both worries and goals and give you tips, tools and strategies that can help accelerate your healing. We heal in relationship, and anxiety counseling sessions are a space for you to truly be yourself and discover what you need to feel confident, calm and whole.
I tried anxiety counseling in the past and it didn’t help.
It is important that you find a therapist who you relate with, can trust and feel able to open up to. That relationship is different for each of us, which is why I offer an in-person, free initial consult, which can help us get a sense of each other and determine if we’d be a good fit. And, I truly believe that there is a path to healing for everyone—it’s just a matter of discovering what works specifically for you. Please don’t give up. There is a happier, calmer way of being that comes with learning how to accept and relax into who you authentically are.
You Can Experience Greater Ease and Enjoyment
If you or your teenager are struggling with anxiety in Boulder, CO or the surrounding area, I can help. I invite you to call me at 303-579-8572 to schedule a free, initial 30-minute consultation either by phone or in-person at my Boulder office. I’m happy to discuss your specific needs and answer questions you have about anxiety counseling and my practice.