Of all the mental/emotional issues you can have, I'd say that anxiety is probably the worst. High-level anxiety may be the worst kind of psychological suffering you can experience. It makes you feel like you're living in a slow-motion plane crash all the time, and that's a terrible way to live. There is so much suffering that comes with anxiety. And even when anxiety is not intense, but chronic, it's still not how you are meant to live. Not to mention that chronic anxiety can actually have a negative effect on your physical health. But please know, I am here to help.
The adrenaline, cortisol, and stress hormones that are released into your blood stream, if experienced chronically, can actually start to eat away at your blood vessels and wear down your muscles and internal organs. Constant muscle tension and "bracing" yourself, usually done unconsciously, slowly pinches off the blood flow to your muscles, squeezes the nerve endings, and can actually create painful conditions throughout your body. Much scientific study has been done on anxiety and stress, and it can really be the worst thing for you in a variety of ways. The world probably isn't going to slow down or get any simpler, so it's very necessary for you to be proactive about fixing your life and getting proper help with your anxiety. There is hope.
"The number of stressors has multiplied exponentially: traffic, money, success, work/life balance, the economy, the environment, parenting, family conflict, relationships, disease. As the nature of human life has become far more complicated, our ancient stress response hasn't been able to keep up." Andrew J. Bernstein
Are you feeling upset, stressed, and overwhelmed? Try one of these quick exercises:
- Place one hand on your chest, and one hand on your belly, and take slow deep breaths
- Place one hand on your forehead, and one hand on your chest, and take slow, deep breaths
- Please your right hand under your left underarm, and your left hand on your right shoulder, and take slow, deep breaths
- Use both hands to knead your upper arms on the opposite sides
- Press your hands together and take slow, deep breaths
Although the source of your anxiety may be very specific to your life and your personal experiences, and your life circumstances, and although most likely there will be some new choices to make and steps to take to deal with the root causes of your anxiety, almost all anxiety can be helped with basic meditation exercises. "Mindfulness" and meditation are not a cure-all, but they can certainly take the edge off anxiety; and for many people they are extremely helpful.
Check out this page at UCLA Health, offering free meditations:
I specialize in treating anxiety and stress, and can help with whatever level or kind of anxiety you are experiencing. Anxiety comes in a variety of forms -- sudden and intense anxiety over a specific situation; chronic, low-level anxiety over just about everything; social anxiety, health anxiety, phobias, and ongoing feelings of worry or dread all fall under the general category.
They have various origins and a variety of treatments, but they all are the result of our 'danger radar' becoming over active and stuck in the 'on' position. People who are brought up by critical, capricious, and/or unpredictable parents might even develop a strain of anxiety that becomes 'marbled' into their personality, making them feel anxiously controlling about almost everything, big or little.
Please follow these links to read more specifically about the various kinds of anxiety I work with:
- Generalized anxiety
- Trauma & PTSD (both childhood trauma & adult trauma)
- Chronic hyper-arousal of the nervous system
- Chronic, low-grade stress/anxiety
Sometimes people will experience so much stress, low-grade and high-grade, for so long, they can place their bodies in what is called a state of 'chronic hyper-arousal.' This means that even when you finally get a chance to slow down and relax, you can't. After a busy, stressful week, you might be looking forward to just relaxing on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, but instead find yourself pulling all the furniture onto the back patio, because you've suddenly decided that everything should be painted. It may feel like you are being continually productive, but really you are being driven by unrelenting anxiety.
"There isn't anybody out there who doesn't have a mental health issue, whether it's depression, anxiety, or how to cope with relationships. Having OCD is not an embarrassment anymore for me. Just know that there is help and your life could be better if you go out and seek the help." Howie Mandel
Other symptoms you might experience include unconsciously holding your breath until you suddenly realize you're turning purple and feeling faint. Chronic, low-grade stress actually causes the breathing to become more shallow, and it might happen in a way that you don't notice, over a span of time. Suddenly your body experiences the sense of running low on oxygen, and you find yourself gasping or sighing; these are signs that your breathing is shallow and you're not getting enough oxygen into your system.
Mindfulness Alone Isn’t Enough for Growth
"While mindfulness is important and necessary for self-development, is it enough if we want to deepen our inner journey?" The answer is that while mindfulness is very helpful, it may not be enough for most people dealing with significant anxiety issues, and that's where professional therapy comes in.
- Self-Perception Has Its Limits
- Growth Requires More Than Mindfulness
- Both Mindfulness and Relationship Are Essential
All forms of anxiety impair your optimal life functioning and can take a heavy toll on your relationship, your friendships, and your work life. Whatever form it may be taking in your life now, it's a good idea to talk with a professional about what you can do to feel relaxed and happy again. Please feel free to call or contact me with any questions you might have.