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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.

Anxiety: 7 Common Symptoms

By Cathy Neville, LPC,  on January 28, 2015

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Anxiety: 7 Common Symptoms

Worry is normal. But if you find yourself worrying constantly and feel that your worry is interrupting your day-to-day life, you may suffer from excessive anxiety. Even if you believe that your worries are consistently and negatively impacting your quality of life, don’t lose hope. You can seek help and relief from the cycles of apprehension and dread.

First, Ask Yourself These Questions About Anxiety

1. Do you usually believe that the worst will happen, and that you won’t be able to cope when it does?
Sufferers of anxiety generally believe that the worst-case scenario is inevitable. For example, that, regardless of performance, they will certainly lose their jobs. They also firmly believe that when this happens, they won’t be able to handle it or move on. For example, they will lose their jobs and then never find another job again. The negativity escalates.

2. Do you experience sudden feelings of fear, dread, and hopelessness?
Sufferers of anxiety may find themselves caught in overwhelming emotions, even when nothing has happened to provoke them. They may believe that there is no way out. Anxiety is closely linked with depression.

3. Do you pay close attention to physical symptoms in anticipation of illness or injury?
Anxious people often obsessively monitor their bodies in order to catch any change that might indicate grave illness. They mentally exaggerate symptoms and believe in the worst possible outcome for the perceived sickness. They may even avoid activities that might induce injury or illness, such as social events or outdoor exercise.

4. Do you constantly seek reassurance?
If you frequently need friends, peers, and especially loved ones to tell you explicitly that you are valued, talented, attractive, and worthwhile, even when you have no evidence that you are not, you may suffer from anxiety.

5. Do you rely on alcohol or other substances to numb your worries? Do you rely on work to hide them?
Sufferers of anxiety often resort to harmful self-medication to avoid feelings of dread or self-consciousness, especially in social situations, many of which include alcohol. They may try to use drinking and drugs to ease social pressures, though these substances may actually increase anxiety rather than suppress it.

Similarly, they may throw themselves into work to fight feelings of worthlessness and to hide anxiety from co-workers and friends. However, they might also avoid potential or perceived failure by refusing new tasks or challenges.

6. Have you had a panic attack?
Symptoms of a panic attack include shortness of breath, numbness in the extremities, elevated heart rate, dizziness, an overwhelming feeling of dread, and a concentrated anticipation of death. Often the sufferer feels depressed or listless for days following the attack. Panic attacks can happen at any time, but are most commonly produced by an especially stressful situation, like a reprimand at work, a fight with a spouse, or even the discovery of a symptom of illness, such as a strange mole.

Attacks may cause further worry and reclusive behavior in sufferers, who fear they will have an attack in public and humiliate themselves. They may also develop a fear of the places or situations in which an attack occurred. For example, if you have a panic attack in a car, you may begin to avoid driving or long car rides.

While panic attacks happen to many people, they are powerful physical symptom of excessive, debilitating anxiety.

7. Do you worry about your worry?
One of the most serious and cyclical symptoms of anxiety is, plainly, worry about worry. You may fear that everyone can see your worry and judges you negatively because of it. You may even believe that your concerns make you foolish and worthless. It can feel as though anxiety is destroying your life.

You Are Not Alone

When you suffer from anxiety, it is easy to think that you suffer alone, and that there is no way out. Surely no one else loses themselves in a cycle of worry and self-doubt, surely everyone else is strong. But even this belief in your isolation is itself a symptom of anxiety. Every year, anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans over the age of eighteen. You are not alone. And there is hope.   I am a counselor in San Antonio, Texas who specializes in anxiety.  As an anxiety counselor, I can provide you with the tools to get control of your life!  Get started NOW!