Is Anxiety Making Your World Smaller?
“If you continually shun any stress, you become comfortable with fewer and fewer experiences.”~ David Viscott
If anxiety isn’t effectively managed; it will eventually take control of your life. I was talking with my friend and colleague, Robert Woodward, who also specializes in the treatment of stress and anxiety and asked him how he identifies anxiety in his clients. Here are his top 5 behaviors that occur to set you up for added anxiety in your life and I will follow with strategies to fix those areas.
5 Red Flags Anxiety Is Damaging The Quality Of Your Life.
1) Sleep Disturbances: Anxiety often leads to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Too much on your mind equals too little quality sleep.
2) Difficulty Having Fun: If friends and loved ones are telling you you’re no fun, odds are you are anxious. Anxiety steals opportunities for spontaneity and tends to make people focus on what can go wrong, not on what fun you are having in the moment.
3) Procrastinating: Anxious people have a hard time getting started on projects and are constantly second guessing themselves once they do get started.
4) Focus: When someone is under a lot of stress, anxiety opens the floodgates to worry about everything. This in turn makes it hard to focus on a single thing.
5) Relationship Issues: Let’s face it, if the above problems are going on, odds are that you are or will start having relationship issues. If your significant other is telling you that you seem distant, you might need to look closely at your behaviors and anxious mindset before they become distant too.
(Robert Woodward is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center)
Here are 8 Strategies To Direct Yourself Away From Anxiety Driven Thought Processes:
1) Routinely Remind Yourself That You Are Okay. We live in a dangerous world but that doesn’t mean that you must constantly be on the alert. You need to have a situational awareness but a constant sense of hypervigilance probably isn’t necessary. Use self- talk to maintain a calmer demeanor by saying, “I’m okay.” This simple little tip can greatly reduce anxiety if you will give it a fair chance.
2) What Is The Probability That Something Bad Will Happen? Based on your life experience, what is the probability that something bad will actually happen? Be careful not to use absolute statements like “Every time I get close to someone, something bad happens” or, “If something can go wrong, then you know it always happens to me.” So, if the chances are slim that something bad will actually happen, then you may want to use lower probability language like, “Things usually work out for me” and, “I get along with most people.”
3) Some Personalities Are More Prone To Anxiety And Worry. Some people have a more active brain than others. They tend to think, worry and analyze things to death. They worry about making a mistake or hurting someone’s feelings. They may care too much of what others think of them. If you fall into this category, you will have to work harder at redirecting your thought processes.
4) Make More Friends. Friends and acquaintances within the community act as buffers against stress and worry. You need people who you can feel close to and some friends who are more casual. The more you tap into your community, the less pressure or anxiety you will feel.
5) Expose Yourself To Things That Make You Anxious. This may be a tough homework assignment for you. Be courageous. Courage is the ability to do or face something that scares you. If anxiety has made your world smaller because you avoid going out and trying new things; then start going to places you are familiar with. This usually means places with crowds like church or the shopping mall. So instead of pretending these places don’t exist anymore, go to the mall today and church this Sunday. You must push yourself not to feed your fears. You must reclaim your life. If you don’t, your world will shrink.
6) Trivialize Your Anxiety. My younger brother Scott has never been afraid to try new things. When faced with some new experience or a stressful situation, he says something that neutralizes his emotions or turns them into excitement. He says “It ain’t nothing but a thing.” He then smiles and plunges forward, getting things done. His life is fuller than most because he doesn’t let stress and anxiety get the best of him.
7) Remember To Breathe. A former client of mine lost her husband in death and faced a lot of challenges in addition to her strong feelings of grief. She had never lost someone close to her before and her friends who were also sad for the loss turned to her for support instead of providing support. She handled this difficult time with honor and grace. I asked her what helped her hold it together so well. She said her faith and something I had previously taught her. She said I hung onto the advice of “just breathe. I just kept repeating this simple reminder”.
A good therapist knows dozens of techniques for taking control of your life and our community is full of them. Tap into these resources today.
Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. He is the author of How To Be A Great Partner. Mark has been in the field of helping individuals and couples since 1986. He has a vast amount of experience and he can have a very positive impact on your life and your relationship. If you are looking for individual or marriage counseling, please call his office in Valdosta, Georgia and his staff will help you set up an appointment.
South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center
2704 N. Oak St. Blg B-3
Valdosta, Georgia 31602