Anxiety 101: What You Should Know

You need to know that everyone experiences anxiety. However, not all of us experience anxiety in the same way. Picture anxiety as being on a spectrum, like this:

You’re probably wondering why you’re on the high end? It’s most definitely not your fault. Where we fall on the anxiety spectrum depends a lot on genetics. If you are prone to anxiety, odds are you’ve got a parent (or two) who’s prone to anxiety too.

Sorry to say that we can’t do anything to change your genetics…remember, as the wise Lady Gaga once sang, “Baby you were born this way.”

But before you go blaming Mom or Dad, you should also know that your environment plays a significant factor too.

Your Environment: An Example

Imagine that you’re on vacation and resting on a sunny beach. You hear the sounds of ocean waves crashing softly ashore. You take a deep slow breath in savoring the salty air. You stretch your arms out wide, look around at your tranquil surroundings, and smile. The only thing on your to-do list today is “sun and fun.” Check.

That was lovely, wasn’t it?

Now, picture a more typical day-to-day:
You wake up with a panic realizing you’ve hit snooze one too many times…you frantically scramble out of bed and throw on the first thing you see (obviously it’s the yoga pants and t-shirt laying on your floor that you wore yesterday…but hey, no judgment here). You quickly brush your teeth and comb your hair glancing down at your phone to check the time…Frack! You’re late and you’ve got to go right now! No time for breakfast. You book it to your first class and barely make it right on time. You grab an open seat wiping the sweat away from your brow as you try and quiet your breathing. You take a quick look at your calendar for today….two more classes, a lab, meeting, and group work…oy, you hate group work!

Pop Quiz

Which environment is more likely to make your anxiety worse?
(Cue Jeopardy music)

Answer: What is the overslept/overscheduled/classroom environment?
(Ding! Ding! Ding!) Correct!

Anxiety

When you’re dealing with an unpredictable environment full of stressors and a tendency to be overscheduled, your anxiety is more likely to be triggered and quickly grow beyond your control. When this happens, worries get kicked into overdrive and you feel paralyzed rendering it almost impossible to make decisions and move forward.

When anxiety is working against you, common signs and symptoms include:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Sleeping issues
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Rapid breathing
  • Stomach problems
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Negative inward thinking
  • Avoidant behavior
  • Procrastination
  • Writer’s Block
  • Panic attacks

If you’re still worried that you’re always going to feel anxious and there’s nothing that you can do.

Stop. Because it’s not true.

You can get help and learn how to master your anxiety and actually make it work for you.

Because not all anxiety is bad. When anxiety is working for you:

  • Anxiety can be energizing
  • Anxiety can be motivating
  • Anxiety can help you to focus
  • Anxiety can help you perform at your best

How We Help

When you work with us at Lehigh Valley Premier Counseling, we’ll teach you how to keep your anxiety in check so that you can live freely and be in control. You’ll learn our two-step approach for mastering anxiety:

Step 1: You’ll learn how to recognize negative unwanted thoughts that trigger your anxiety (kind of like adding gasoline to a fire) and then develop newer and healthier thinking strategies that allow you to be at your most productive.

Step 2: You’ll also learn how to calm your mind and body down so that you can relax, sleep soundly, and feel more confident overall.

Next Steps

When your anxiety is raging it makes everything harder, but you don’t have to struggle alone. We’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule your first appointment and get started.

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