Los Angeles Christian Counseling
In recent times, many posts are coming out about entertainers and popular athletes dealing with mental issues, particularly anxiety. These admissions are encouraging even more celebrities and, most importantly, the general public to come face to face with this issue.Anxiety disorders are very, very real and require something more than just “positive thinking.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “An estimated 44 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Yet only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment even though the disorders are highly treatable.”
Worry Versus Anxiety
Everybody worries about something. It is a natural way for us to be prepared for the surprises of tomorrow. However, when a person worries about a problem, that problem is well defined in their mind. They can think about it, research about it, and ask help from others about it.
For anxiety, many times the true problem cannot be pinpointed. The person’s worry may be quite general and all-encompassing.
For example, a worry might be a $10,000 debt due next Friday. Solutions for this, however, can be found – to borrow from others or talk to the creditor in the hope of an extension or further considerations.
But someone suffering from anxiety about money might be so “worried” about whether they will be able to financially support their family’s needs now and in the future that it causes them sleepless nights, even if the issue itself hasn’t arrived yet (and many times it never does).
Practical Tips for Dealing with the Common Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack
According to Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D., in his book “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,” the ten most common symptoms of an anxiety attack include constant fatigue, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, increased startle response, irritability, muscle tension, rapid heart rate, restlessness, sleeping problems, and shortness of breath.
Though it is not a life-threatening disorder, anxiety is no fun. It sucks away the joy of life as the worries, coupled with such symptoms, drain one’s personal energy and affect confidence and other abilities.
Bourne’s book states that a sufferer of anxiety disorder needs to address three main areas for effective recovery. They need to reduce physiological reactivity, change their self-talk, and overcome avoidance behavior. But before all of that, a sufferer must be aware of what they are going through.
In order to proactively combat anxiety, one has to first become self-aware about what triggers their anxiety. This means understanding the abovementioned anxiety symptoms and determining when they occur.
For example, for those who may be anxious about money matters might feel their muscles tense up and head start to spin whenever their spouse, children, or even their accountant comes to them with money issues. If they are anxious about family relationships, they might recognize such symptoms occurring whenever their cell phone rings or they see an emergency newsflash on TV about a local accident.
When a person is self-aware of these triggers, they can already prepare themselves before encountering the situation (e.g. deep breaths before they sit down with the accountant, a quick prayer before they answer the phone). Or if they recognize that physical symptoms are kicking in, they may begin to quell them before a full-blown anxiety attack hits them.
Reducing Physiological ReactivityThough a mental disorder, the healthiness of the body has a great effect on how a person may react to anxiety. If the body is weak, the mind also feels weak, making a person more susceptible to anxiety attacks. This is why it is important to keep the body strong through exercise, proper sleep, and the right diet.
In addition, it also helps to have outlets to reduce anxiety when it rears its ugly head. Aside from exercising (e.g. hitting the punching bags, jogging, aerobics) to wipe away the worries for the meantime, it can help to listen to calming music, express oneself artistically, or watch something funny. Doing such things regularly can also keep your mood positive, helping to reduce anxious thoughts.
Changing Anxious Self-talk
While there are many possible causes of anxiety (e.g. stressors in one’s environment, emotional trauma, medication issues), being able to identify and address “anxious self-talk” or “anxious internal dialogue” is very important.
For many sufferers of anxiety, there is often a running dialogue in their mind that contains a lot of negativity. Daily phrases in the mind such as “I’m stupid,” “I messed up again,” “They don’t like me,” “I’m a nobody,” and “I don’t deserve this” are sure to bring anyone’s confidence down.
Instead of allowing internal dialogue to bring themselves down, sufferers need to change the negative to positive – “I was trained for this,” “I can do this,” or “I am loved.” This may take time since the sufferer may already be used to thinking negatively. But it can and should be done. If need be, help from friends or professionals may be required to ensure that they are regularly thinking in the right way.
Overcoming Avoidance Behavior
One more thing that needs to be prevented is avoidance behavior. Sufferers that are aware of what triggers their attacks (e.g. public speaking, crowded rooms, facing irate people) often try to avoid such compromising situations as these may be embarrassing and very uncomfortable (due to the anxiety symptoms).
This, however, should not be done as the sufferer will never be able to overcome their internal fears. In fact, the more they avoid it, the more they will come to fear it. The sufferer needs to face this irrational fear head on so that they can function normally in life.
This, of course, is easier said than done. It will require much practice as well as a change of their self-talk as mentioned earlier. If family and friends are willing to help, then it can be a great small step to approach anxiety in one’s life. But if such is not possible, then professional help is advised.
Help Through Christian Counseling
While a few may be able to surmount anxiety on their own, many more have difficulty doing so. This is why so many struggle with anxiety for years, causing much anguish in their family and professional lives.
In Christian counseling for anxiety, not only will the sufferer receive professional help, using tried-and-tested counseling methods; they will also be connected to our Lord Jesus Christ who is able to give us the internal peace that we need.
Troublesome anxiety is basically having a great fear of what tomorrow will bring. But if one is able to trust in our Lord, who said He would never leave us, then there will no longer be a need to worry.
Needless worry over something never helped anyone. If you or a friend is struggling with anxiety, seek help through Christian counseling.
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