A Remedy for Fear and Anxiety Is Here!

Relief for fear and anxiety

Mindfulness Meditation

by Cathy Neville, LPC, on May 2, 2015.

Fear and Anxiety

Emergency! Disaster! Catastrophe! The alarm bells are sounding in your head and you’re not even sure why. You’re tense and jumpy. All you know is that something is wrong. Something says run. Something says fight…again.You’ve had more than enough. How can you make anxiety subside and retreat? If you’ve reached a point where intrusive, anxious thoughts are getting in the way of your life and relationships, try mindfulness meditation as a way to help silence the alarms.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice or habit of being present. Learning how to remain “here and now” is the objective. Being present helps you notice and observe the thoughts and feelings that support disturbing emotions, without needing to respond. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to disconnect from negative thought patterns, become aware your bodily responses and refocus on the present moment. This practice has an extremely beneficial impact on anxiety.

Consider the following ways mindfulness meditation soothes and alleviates worry, fear, and your anxious “high alert” condition:

1. Mindful meditation allows you to watch and pay attention instead of worry and panic.

The wandering, fast and furious thoughts typical of an anxious mind are brought under control through moment-by-moment awareness.

This method keeps your attention focused on observation of thought as it comes. Essentially, mindfulness meditation lets anxiety have its way. You become aware of anxious feelings rather than hide from them.

Seeing anxiety and feeling it doesn’t mean you must engage it or control it. It doesn’t mean avoiding it either. In a mindful state, you remain in your body, aimed only in the moment. Your breathing is steady and controlled.

Each moment happens naturally. You do not attempt to change it or affect it. You are simply aware. No breath, physical impression or emotion is given less than your undivided attention.

2. Mindfulness soothes the need to overthink.

While you are in a present, observant mental state, stressors are less likely to become anxious episodes.

Mental space once reserved for worry is no longer filled with countless things, people or events you cannot control in the future or past.

People with general anxiety disorder (GAD) seem to be particularly benefitted by mindfulness meditation. Sufferers of the disorder deal with persistent and unmanageable worries, sleeplessness and irritability.

Studies like that of Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a well-respected psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, reveals that therapies incorporating mindfulness meditation help reduce anxiety beyond the improvements shown in groups which employed other stress management techniques.

3. Mindfulness meditation helps recognize the truth.

Mindfulness helps you face fears by acknowledging it for what truly is, exactly as it is. You can better determine whether they are productive answers to real problems, or the result of unrealistic thinking.

Without the distress and reaction of “fight or flight,” the reasons for your anxiety can be determined accurate or untrue.

Recent research supports this idea. In the British Journal of Clinical, researchers at the Bergen in Norway published a review of how effective mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) is on anxiety. Nineteen studies were included. The research revealed that when therapeutic interventions focused on developing a new relationship with “distressing thoughts, feelings and behavioral impulses” rather than replacing or controlling symptoms, less distress occurred. Basically, MBT shapes a new perspective of anxiety. You can observe the perceived threats and fight or flight responses rather than become absorbed in them.

From a state of present consciousness, mindfulness meditation allows you to see things more clearly and become better at letting fear go.  Good news, don’t you think?

If you need help getting started with your meditation and you live in the San Antonio area, call me or make an appointment online, so you can start controlling your fear and anxiety.

How Avoidance Makes Anxiety Worse

By Cathy Neville, LPC, on April 12, 2015

Why should you hide from anxiety?

Why should you have to avoid it, accommodate it, or act like it isn’t really there?

After all, anxiety is supposed to work for you. It is supposed to be that voice of reason in a tight situation. Fight or flight, right? Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, many anxiety sufferers learn that the way to deal with anxiety is to avoid it.

You start avoiding the things you fear the most to feel safer.

You start pouring all your effort into escaping rather than dealing with your anxious feelings and triggers.

But is it working?

Probably not.

Like any problem you refuse to face

Anxiety will get more determined to find you.

And it always does, usually in a big way.

Avoidance simply produces more anxiety.

It produces more distance between you, the life you want to live, and the people you want to love.

Avoidance simply empowers anxiety.

Avoidance simply keeps you stuck.

That is not okay.

So, how should you deal with this stalker you call anxiety?

How can you get it to fall in line in your head and respect your peace of mind?

Avoid no more.

That’s right.

Otherwise, life just gets more complicated and too limiting.

Not sure you can face your fears successfully?

Need more motivation to make a change?

Let’s look at how avoidance coping actually makes managing anxiety harder.

1. Avoidance usually just keeps you focused on the people, situations, or feelings you’re trying to avoid. Aren’t you constantly conscious of the thing you don’t want to deal with? It seems like you’re constantly maneuvering mentally in order to avoid pain, pressure, embarrassment — whatever.

Avoidance doesn’t improve anything; it just amplifies your anxiety. You’re better off “avoiding avoidance.” When you’re ready to say enough is enough, then it’s finally time to face your anxiety with the support of family, friends, or a counselor.

2. Avoidance is not as passive as it seems. In fact, avoidance is actually an attempt to fight anxiety. This rarely works. By forcing yourself to ignore your feelings you subject yourself to punishing rounds of self-deception and self-protection. You end up losing precious time and energy trying to ward off and block your uncomfortable feelings. Your health and relationships suffer as you attempt to aggressively ignore the triggers. This is fruitless. Eventually, the anxiety comes back stronger anyway. Anxiety still gains the upper hand because you won’t make peace with it.

Avoidance doesn’t allow you to tell yourself the truth about your fear and discomfort. Learning to accept anxiety is the best counter measure.

3. Avoidance makes you intolerant. Avoidance coping keeps you afraid and unable to deal with intrusive thoughts and scary feelings naturally and progressively. You simply don’t deal. Learning how to process feelings you don’t like or want to experience is emotional tolerance. Emotional tolerance is key to helping you cope differently.

Avoidance doesn’t make room for emotional self-soothing, regulating, and competency. Learning to recognize and embrace your anxious feelings will give you better opportunities to overcome or reduce them as you move forward.

Avoidance keeps you hemmed in.

It is not the powerful position it first seems.

But you are not powerless.

With the help of a compassionate professional you can regain your ability to fight or flee appropriately.

You are not solely at the mercy of over-stimulated anxiety or the draining task of ignoring it.

When you learn to accept that reality includes anxiety, anxiety will begin to loosen its hold on you.

You can look anxiety in the face, shrug your shoulders, and truly be okay.

Do I Have General Anxiety Disorder?

By Cathy Neville, LPC, on March 24, 2015

GAD

GAD

Are you worried about the way you worry?

Does it seem like you go from “kind of concerned” to “overwrought” in a just few moments time?

Why can’t you turn off the running list of anxious thoughts?

How can you tell if your overreaction is reason for action?

To help determine whether you’re a normal worrier, or dealing with a disorder, ask a few questions.

Is your worry extreme? Are worries unacceptable and disproportionate for the situation?
Is your worry unwelcome? Do you normally summon your worrisome thoughts, or is their occurrence out-of-control and intrusive?
Is your worry persistent? Are you able to redirect your thoughts or does anxiety overwhelm your attempts to focus elsewhere?
Is your worry debilitating? Can you function despite your worries?

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Everybody feels the need to fight or flee at times.

Anxiety is meant to warn and protect.

General Anxiety Disorder takes over.

GAD is the propensity to worry in a way that is constant, intrusive, and exhausting.

It is a round-the-clock, unprovoked fear-fest that won’t let up.

Do you drain your mental energy worrying why your spouse is late from work?

Do you stay up all night fretting that you have too much to do?

Do you worry that you’ll be too tired to do it?

Do you feel tense and physically taxed from living in a constant state of “high alert?”

Determine if GAD is Fueling Your Anxiety

GAD can be a challenge to pin down because certain days, certain times of the day, or certain activities during the day, can relieve or exacerbate the symptoms.

Even everyday stressors can aggravate generalized anxiety disorder.

Not everyone experiences GAD the same way. Symptoms combine and disperse depending on the person.

Still, there are some general GAD indicators that impact the way you experience anxiety, behave, and feel physically that may encourage you to discuss this disorder with your therapist.

GAD and Your Mind

Anxiety is a well-run machine in your head. It keeps going and going. Dread, fear, tension, and worry are mental gears that wind and interlock to keep anxious thoughts spinning.
You feel powerless to stop the worrying. Pushing against your thoughts is frightening. Avoiding your thoughts seems impossible.
Your anxious thoughts are bullies. They bust their way into your mind whenever they want. You feel like you can’t escape them.
Uncertainty is unacceptable. You need to know as much as you can know at all times. You want to know what’s around every corner. Figuratively and literally.
Something bad is always around those corners. You live with a constant state of unpreparedness and dread.

GAD and Your Behavior

You don’t do downtime. Relaxation just doesn’t seem possible.
Concentration doesn’t last. Focus is difficult to sustain.
Procrastination is a habit. It is the way you cope with the fear that you’ll never get done with anything.
Avoidance and withdrawal interfere with relationships. They seem to make life easier to manage.

GAD and Your Body

Tense shoulders. Muscle spasms. Migraines. Aches and pains are the result of constant tension.
Sleep disturbances wreck your ability to rest. The lights won’t turn off or stay off in your mind.
You’re jumpy and easily rattled. You feel restless and on edge.
Worry seems to actually live in your stomach. Cramps, nausea, and diarrhea are commonplace.
If you think Generalized Anxiety Disorder is at the root of your worry, don’t suffer it alone.

Why not work through your worry with a therapist?

He or she can show you ways to identify thoughts that are getting in your way and help you develop strategies for effective worry relief.

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