Anxiety Answers

Why am I so stressed at 29 years old? And I how can I stop worrying about every single thing?

Hi Pag, First off you should be proud for reaching out. I am so sorry that you are feeling as if you're being negative. Anxiety can be a very tricky thing and can be so different for everybody. What does anxiety look like to you? What do you do when you are feeling anxious? When we are feeling anxious it could be important to explore the why behind it all. How long have you had anxiety? When you first started having anxiety was there something that triggered it? How old were you before the anxiety started? It is normal for people to be worried and concerned about things in our life but when it is excessive worry is when it can turn to an issue for you. At the same time that does not necessarily mean you have a mind of an older person. It could be just some changes going on right now in your life. This is your chance to really explore yourself and see what you truly like and what you think could be fun for you. What did you like to do before you became anxious? What kind of fun things did you enjoy before?  Along with the anxiety it would be important for you to know your triggers. If you know your triggers you can cope more easy. Also with your triggers what coping skills do you utilize? Have you looked into these things before? Once you can help your anxiety and work on it, you can focus more on yourself and what you think could be fun for you.  When you have anxiety it is important to dig deep into those thoughts and maybe even write them out. Write out your anxious thought and then write out the multiple outcomes that can happen from the thing that is making you anxious. When you're anxious a lot of the times you are not able to focus on yourself and do the things you need to do to take care of yourself. Practicing self care could be helpful for you. What are things you do to take care of yourself, your body and your mind?
Answered on 02/10/2023

How do I deal with my overthinking?

Thank you for reaching out for support and for submitting your question. I am very sorry that you are experiencing challenges and difficulties in your life right now. You mention overthinking is a big concern for you. Thinking is something all of us do. And it can be a good thing for us to engage in. It can be vitally necessary in many instances. In fact, there are many times in our life when taking the time to be thoughtful, to think more than we might normally, helps us tremendously and is vitally important.But overthinking? That most definitely can become problematic and can indeed get in our way. It can keep us stuck in place. It can stop you from taking action and keep you from getting things done. It can wreak quite a bit of havoc on your emotions and bring down your overall mood. It can impair your relationships, both personal and professional. It can make you feel overwhelmed and stress you out. It can also lead to muscle and body aches, tension, and overall general chronic pain in the body. Some may experience headaches or digestive issues because of it. In chronic, long-term cases there can be issues with premature aging, a compromised immune system, heart disease and other conditions. It really can do quite a number on your emotional and physical health if left unchecked. So it is vital to notice this pattern and cut it off. Overthinking makes thinking productively and clearly much, much harder – if not nearly impossible. Maybe you worry a lot about the future and what may or may not come to pass. Often, this means making predictions, usually catastrophic ones, which quite likely will never happen. Or you get trapped ruminating and dwelling over the past. Perhaps you do both.Overthinking can be a symptom of anxiety, stress, or depression. It can absolutely be a challenging habit to break. But you can get reduce your overthinking tendencies and things can certainly improve. Practice will be helpful as you won’t change this pattern right away. Practice AND patience will be key.Being aware that you have a tendency towards overthinking is actually a really great place to be and is a good first step. After all, you cannot change something you don’t acknowledge. Before we can change a habit we need to be aware it even exists. Catching yourself when you get caught up with overthinking is a moment of awareness that will help facilitate change.Often, our overthinking can be deeply rooted in fear. We begin getting very focused in on all the many things which could go wrong. Our imagination can truly get the best of us. And when that occurs we find that we get stuck. We can’t seem to take action. We get paralyzed by the endless loop of thoughts. We get frozen in place.The next time you notice that loop of overthinking settling in over you, consciously hit the pause button. Notice if you are thinking about all that could go wrong. Are you having lots of negative worries flooding in? Take that moment to switch over to using your powers of thinking to come up with all that could go right and all the positives. Find some alternatives. Switch gears, so to speak.One option is to give yourself some scheduled worry and thinking time. Set a boundary around it. During the time you can think and mull and stew and ruminate all you’d like. You are not going to overthink and worry all day non-stop. Pick maybe 20 minutes where you will sit and process things. Get some pen and paper. Or sit at your computer. List out all the things which need to be thought about. Write about them. What are they? How do they make you feel? What can you do about them? What is out of your control? Get it all out and when your time is up then it’s time to move on. It can be a good idea to plan an enjoyable, relaxing activity after your get-out-your-thoughts session. If you begin to overthink during your day outside your scheduled time, just remind yourself to get back on the task at hand and make a note if need be that you will get to think about things later.Try to challenge the negative thoughts you have. We all have them. Many are untrue. So check in and see how many of yours could be false. Consider the thought. Ask – is that true? How do you know it’s true? What is the evidence for and against it? What else could be true? Try your best to take a more balanced approach.Feeling unworthy and disappointed in ourselves is a something many others find themselves struggling with. It just simply means you’re human. We all experience it at some point and to varying degrees. Again, you’re not alone in this. And it’s a normal thing to have happen. However, it sometimes can become too much to manage and it becomes overwhelming. That sounds like what is happening for you. If it’s impeding your ability to function well in your daily life, causing emotional upset, holding you back, and causing difficulties in relationships, there is much you can do to begin to feel better. You do not need to continue to live in such a way.Learning to be kinder to yourself and working on increasing self-compassion can be helpful. As can practicing gratitude – savoring what you have and who you truly are. You can begin with finding something small to be grateful for. Begin paying more attention to what is good – or even what is just okay.A lack of happiness oftentimes can be the result of us not having a clear sense of meaning and purpose. Working on this will require a bit more time and effort. You’ll want to become more aware of your values and passions. You might want to consider your current qualities versus which ones you may want to develop further. All of this can come about from self-reflection and asking lots of questions. You can do this alone or working with a therapist can be helpful. It sounds like this has all become a heavy burden for you. And it doesn’t have to continue to be this way. None of these feelings have to continue to control you or get in the way of you leading a joy filled, productive life. Working with a mental health therapist to explore what led you to this place is something worth considering. Together with your therapist, you can set goals and eventually find yourself digging out of what can feel like a dark hole you’ve been stuck in. This is something you can make great progress with. I encourage you to seek support so that these feelings don’t continue to limit and/or overwhelm you.
Answered on 02/07/2023

Are you allowed to be mad if someone says your meltdowns are just a tantrum?

Hi Kiky! Thank you for your time reaching out for support on the BetterHelp platform. It is a really great sign that you are inquiring about ways to manage your current situation. The fact that you are seeking out guidance and advice truly speaks to your strengths, such as your bravery and resiliency. I truly hope that I can assist you in coming up with novel solutions in order to answer your question. It sounds like you have been feeling concerned about the way the person you trusted reacted to the meltdown you were experiencing. It makes sense to me that you are feeling this way based on the information that you provided in your question. I can certainly understand that having a mental health meltdown can be a truly triggering as well as a really scary experience. It sounds like you really needed someone to talk to in that present moment. You did the right thing to reach out to someone who you trust for support. Unfortunately, it appears that this person was unable to support you in the ways you were hoping for. Additionally, it sounds like you perceived them as being mad at you for reaching out during the meltdown moment. It seems like you were able to make the decision to disconnect from the conversation about observing his initial reaction. How would you have preferred this scenario to have gone? Take some time to answer this question for yourself and journal about your recent experiences. This narrative therapy approach can be extremely beneficial as a means to tell your story. The therapeutic journaling process can be a powerful means of making progress towards self discovery. First and foremost, I want to point out that this person's reaction does not reflect on you. To put this in perspective, his decision to say that you are acting disrespectful says more about him than it does about you in this situation. It sounds hurtful for him to say that and it makes sense that you stopped texting him. It is okay to feel upset, mad, frustrated, irritated, etc. about how he treated you. Take some time to identify how you are feeling using the feelings wheel. This free resource is online and will help you to pin point which emotions you are experiencing. I want to take a moment to check in and see how you are doing. I realize that you have persevered through this mental health meltdown. Have you had a meltdown since? How often do you experience meltdowns? How do you think you have been managing things lately? I would like to encourage you to practice self care skills. Do you have a self care plan already in place? Take some time to implement your favorite coping skills and build upon the routine you already have. It is important that you make some time to take care of yourself in order to fully support yourself as you process this difficult situation. Amping up your self care routine can do wonders in helping you to navigate these types of adverse experiences. In addition, it sounds like you have an element of self awareness in that you knew in that moment that you were having a meltdown and that you needed someone to talk to. This demonstrates great emotional intelligence in that you know what you need and why. All in all, it sounds like the person that you reached out to reacted to your experience in a belittling and invalidating way. This may not sit well with you, which I completely understand. Take some time to practice mindfulness techniques, such as radical acceptance. If you can radically accept that he is the way he is, this may assist you in moving forward. It is completely up to you if you would like to stop texting him after what had happened. I would advise you to do what you think is best for you. If you decide to reach back out in the future, that is your choice to make. It sounds like this person has really hurt you by treating you this way. You have every right to feel the way you do about this situation. Your feelings are completely valid. As a registered art therapist, I always recommend making art work as a means to express your feelings and explore your thoughts. The art making process can be incredibly healing. Take some time to gather some art materials and paint, draw or sculpt your feelings. Perhaps you can make a collage about what happened in this situation. Art making can be fuel for healing. At this time, I would like to recommend that you begin attending individual counseling sessions. Talking with a trained therapist may help you to process this experience as well as gain deeper insight and understanding into your thoughts and feelings. Thank you again, Kiky, for asking this great question on this invaluable topic. It is wonderful that you are addressing your concerns on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum. I sincerely hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. Essentially, this situation could have created an opportunity for you to focus on what matters most- you! Take good care and have a nice day!
Answered on 02/07/2023

Anxiety and Depression?

Everyone can benefit from therapy. Therapy would be a good support for you during this time and transition in your life.  It sounds like you have been through a lot of changes. It always helps to have someone objective who will listen; someone you are not close to who can listen without judgment and help you set amd prioritize goals and implement coping skills.  Depression can occur suddenly and cause you to lose motivation for simply engaging in the things you typically enjoyed. The anxiety can contribute to our body's physiology; such as, over thinking, shaking, sweating palms, upset stomach, difficulty breathing or feeling out of breath and worry/overthinking. The symptoms can be temporary and meeting with a licensed therapist through a venue like BetterHelp can assist you by teaching coping skills and how to implement them in your daily life. We go to a doctor when we are sick so why not talk to a therapist when dealing with anxiety, depression and/or any other mental health issue or symptom. When we are overcome with anxiety and depression these can also affect our day to day activities such as work, school, relationships, and even self care.  Best practice is catch it early before things get worse. When being away from your loved ones after making changes in your life, can contribute to possibly experiencing feelings of loneliness as well. Everything starts inside us. So it is imperative to learn how to openly express your thoughts and feelings.  Additionally, a therapist can help you learn how to effectively communicate and express your inner most thoughts and feelings. I would love to assist you or anyone else currently feeling lonely or overwhelmed. Overthinking and worrying can keep us up at night; which, both are part of anxiety. Sometimes, just talking things over with someone can help us develop clarity and organize our thoughts better. Having a therapist can help you reach your goals, as well as, organize your thoughts, set goals, sleep better and increase motivation. A therapist can listen, provide support without judgement. It is a safe way to put yourself first.  
Answered on 02/07/2023

Can CBT help me manage claustrophobia - Especially on flights?

Hi Eli,  Thanks for asking this question! Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you feel better about flying and get help with your claustrophobia. As with all therapy, it will take some hard work on your end but it will be worth it in the long run.  As humans, so many of our thoughts and behaviors are based on feelings and our feelings based on thoughts and behaviors. It is likely that your fear of small spaces and of flying is based on thoughts that you are having. CBT will help you to reframe those thoughts into more helpful ones. When you are flying, if you are thinking things like "wow! it's so beautiful to look out the window" or "I am so excited to get where I am going!", you are going to have much more positive feelings than if you are thinking about the small space and other flying related fears. I know, easier said than done! The part to remember is that it can be done.  Most fears can be lessened if we think about them differently. Another helpful thing that CBT can help you with is to look at the facts. For example; how many planes are flying each day? How many of these end up in life threatening situations? Focus on those facts. Of course there is always a chance for negative things to happen in any aspect of life but many of those things are out of our control. We have to focus on those things that we can control. That does seem to be what you are doing by asking this question! You are trying to find a way to take control of your thoughts, which will in turn take control of your feelings and your behaviors. From my perspective, that is what CBT gives us; control of ourselves. It is wonderful to have control of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This can give you better control of your life and can lead to things being in your favor more frequently. A branch of cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT, tells us that the less we allow our emotional minds to take over and gain the ability to rely on logic and emotions together, the more informed and appropriate decisions we will make.  I wish you the best with this!  -Melissa
Answered on 02/06/2023

How do I stop overthinking?

Hi Dave,  Thank you for your question, and I'm sorry to hear of the toll that overthinking is having on your mental health. I hope that my answer will be able to provide some guidance for you and help you manage these thoughts that you are having. It can be so frustrating to feel like your thoughts are out of your control, particularly when your overthinking has always felt like a part of you.  Overthinking is not a mental health diagnosis in itself but is usually a symptom, particularly of anxiety. It would be helpful for you to take a look at the thoughts that you are having and think about what anxieties are underlying them. Is there a fear of failure? A worry about how people will react to you? Perhaps it could be a mixture of different anxieties/worries.  When we're feeling anxious, it's because our brain is responding to a perceived 'threat'. The problem is that a lot of anxiety can be caused by an imagined threat and these worries aren't actually grounded in reality. This is particularly the case where you've mentioned that you create scenarios in your mind - these scenarios act as the perceived threat but in actuality, there is no concrete 'evidence' for them being real or something that will happen. That doesn't stop them from feeling any less real though, which is why these thoughts have had such a big impact on your wellbeing and life. To combat this process, it is therefore a case of showing your brain that it is not under threat, and that the thoughts it is having are not representative of what is actually happening.  Keeping a thought record is one of the most effective tools to combat overthinking. As regularly and consistently as possible, try to keep a log of the thoughts that you are having. This can be in whatever format works best for you e.g. long paragraphs, bullet points, a voice note for yourself.  Alongside a log of your thoughts, try to identify how this makes you feel too. For example: 'I feel like if I go to work tomorrow, I'm going to mess everything up. This makes me feel embarrassed, like I'm not good enough.' Then from there, you can start to analyze these thoughts a little more. Starting with what makes that thought and feeling so significant to you? What is it about that feeling that you would like to avoid?  Then you can start asking yourself whether the thought can be 'proven' with substantial evidence? Is there any concrete evidence which proves that the thought is real or is going to come true? Is there any evidence to the contrary for your thoughts, that could actually disprove it?  If you described this thought to your friends/family/partner, what would they say about it? Why might their perception of it be different to your own? Is there any way of reframing this thought in a more positive way? That doesn't mean pretending that everything is perfect, but perhaps looking at it with a different perspective. Using the example above, it could be reframed like 'I feel worried about messing up at work tomorrow. My worry is because I want to do a good job and because I'm ambitious. If I do mess up, it gives me an opportunity to learn from the mistake and do things better next time.' The tools I've described are very common ones for addressing difficult thinking patterns. When it comes to overthinking, the most pleasant option feels like trying to block them out, or pretend that they don't exist so that we can get on with life. Unfortunately, tackling overthinking requires the difficult option of confronting the thoughts and taking a look at them, trying to figure out what anxieties and underlying feelings are being expressed through these thoughts.  This process is not easy, but rest assured that overthinking is something that with time and work can become less impactful on your life. Being mindful that this is hard work to be doing, I would also recommend some mindfulness activities. Mindfulness is all about bringing our focus to our biological senses and the world around us, to help us take a step back from our thoughts, particularly if they are overwhelming. I would recommend this webpage as a good starting point for mindfulness. There are many other mindfulness exercises such as breathing and meditation practices which you can find online too, if you would like to explore this further.  The tools that I've mentioned above come from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is a form of therapy which addresses how our thoughts, feelings and behaviors impact one another. With the overthinking that you're describing, it could be beneficial to seek further CBT support as it could very well help you with the problems that you're having. A CBT-trained therapist would be able to support you in tackling these thoughts, and provide you with further tools like the ones I've described.  However, CBT is not the only option and there are many types of therapy which could support you in this. Sometimes, just expressing your thoughts with another person can help. Saying them out loud can help us see a different perspective on things, and having somebody there to explore those thoughts and challenge them can make a world of difference.  I hope that this provides a good starting point as you begin to tackle your overthinking and the impact that it is having on you. I wish you all the best, and certainly hope that you reach a happier place with your thoughts. 
Answered on 02/05/2023

How do I learn to live in real life and not in my head?

I am really glad you asked this question because this is something that a lot of people struggle with! Usually when people are overthinking things they are struggling with negative feelings over something that they did or something that occurred in the past and then they have negative feeling chemicals released every time they think of the future. Those things that happened in the past cause us anxiety or dread. However, it isn't actually what happened that made the person have negative feelings about the past, it is how they viewed what happened. Almost everyone has things from their past that they have an "over response" too. For instance, say someone has an experience when they are 7 years old where they did something embarrassing. When they look at that experience from an adult's perspective they often judge themselves from an adult perspective. When in reality the behavior was not unusual behavior for a 7 year old. They might even be able to see another 7 year old do the same behavior and excuse it as normal for that developmental level. However, when it comes to ourselves we can judge ourselves more harshly. Randomly this event will come into the adult's mind and they will have accompanying thoughts like, "I am so stupid" or something similarly negative. The negative feelings that are produced during that thought will carry through to other areas of their adult life and reinforce the idea that they are "stupid". The more they reinforce how they interpret that event the more they are parallyzed about the future. This can become an obsession with living in the past and fear of the future, so they aren't free to live in the moment. It is important to look at the things that we think about squarely in the face and learn to tell ourselves the "truth". I personally like to recommend positive psychology here where we turn the negative thing into something positive until it actually produces positive chemicals when we think about it. Along with this, gratitude excercises help us focus on the present and what is working in the moment. This also gives us positive feelings about the future. Most people have been thinking negative thoughts so long that they need someone else to help them see the past and future for what it is. Doing this will help them change how they think until they can accept the situation, accept themselves, and anticipate the future. This is how we can best live in the moment. 
Answered on 02/04/2023

How can I get out of thinking every situation I go through is a test?

Dear Billy, I am glad that you are reaching out for some guidance and direction of what to do with your deep emotional distress that keeps arising connected to these thoughts that keep spiraling in your mind and body.  I will be giving you some guidance as to what may be happening for you and give you some guidance to help you move through these thoughts.   First of all, this thought process that you describes is a way that your brain is sticky.  It is getting stuck in a loop that holds you to a certain thought process.  This can be deeply frustrating because you are getting stuck thinking about the same thought process over and over.  That is painful and gets in the way of enjoying life.   I wonder what you have tried to help you to get through this thought process.  I know that in this format of seeking to help you - there are some limitations.  I can't come alongside you in the ways that you already tried things and how that worked for you.  So I like to ask this question to see what folks have done to help themselves. And because you are asking for some guidance, I am going to guess that you tried some things but it didn't shift what was going on for you.  That makes it even more frustrating. It feels like your struggle with this thought process is the perceived fear of the consequences of your actions.  So right now, the action may seem benign or small but the fear is that something later on will show you that you shouldn't have done the things you did.  I wonder if you have had people or things in your life that have talked to you in that same manner ... For example, "You better save your money otherwise you will be left without it."  "You better make sure you are polite to others otherwise they are going to be rude to you later."  Etc.  Have you had people in your life that have been reflecting those kinds of statements to you - statements that point to the fear of what COULD happen in the future that MIGHT be related to what you do or don't do now?   I also wonder if there was a time in your life that you can look back and say very powerfully - if I would have _____ (fill in the blank) then __________ (This terrible thing) would not have happened?  If you have felt that way about something in your past, this can kick start folks into starting to second guess everything they do in order to try to avoid the future possibility of pain.  I wonder if you can relate to either of these questions or possible reasons for why you are turning to this action. I know that if you have tried what you know to try to change your mind spin and you are asking for help, to me, this says that it is time to get some professional guidance outside of yourself to help you to have some freedom.  I would encourage you to dig into getting some emotional support through a therapist who is well versed in dealing with these kinds of mind spins and have a way that they can come alongside you well.  Just like when people have a disease and they seek out doctors who are well versed in their particular issue, you can seek out a therapist who is able to come along side you well.  So seek out a therapist and then seek to ask questions about their expertise.   I also want to give you some guidance as to how to navigate these thoughts today.   First of all, it can be helpful to tell yourself that there is no right answer with most things in life.  There is always a grey area and it is OK to just make a decision.  So when there is a decision before you seek to tell yourself that there is no right answer and that you will make it through this decision right now and no matter what happens in the future.  I would encourage you to come up with a way of responding to decisions that puts these thoughts into some sort of mantra - put it on your phone.  Make it clear in your life so that you can come back to the truth that there is no right or wrong answer.  You will make it through whatever happens now or in the future.  You have in the past and you will now and you will in the future.  Another thing that has helped some of my clients who have similar thought patterns is the reality of seeking to embrace and see that failure is not bad.  When we have been hurt by what we think was failure in the past, sometimes we will then seek to not fail in the future and then get into loops such as what you've experienced.  So it is important to see and feel and know and embrace that failure is normal, it's important, it is part of being human and it will result in us having more strength and ability to manage life.  If that thought is a hard one to sit with, this tells me that you need to focus on building that reality in your life and mind.  That would be something to bring to your therapist.  Another practice that can help you is to face your struggle with forward movement.  You are going to decide to go with a decision, pick that decision and allow that second guessing, spinning to go on in your mind but not change your action.  You are seeking to just feel the struggle of allowing your brain to struggle but still following through with the decision. You are going to then seek to calm your body - do deep breathing and movement that helps you to calm your body.  Body calming will be helpful to do when you are struggling emotionally.   I would encourage you to keep moving towards getting the support you need to help you to calm your mind and body.   Best of luck, Paula
Answered on 02/03/2023

Is there a way I can get rid of being anxious all the time?

Thanks for reaching out for advice regarding this matter. Anxiety can be a healthy emotion, it forces us to focus on our problems, and work hard to solve them. But sometimes, anxiety grows out of control, and does just the opposite. It paralyzes our ability to solve problems. When this happens, irrational thoughts often play a role. First of all, it is important to know that anxiety is something that everyone experiences from time to time, but for some people, it can be extensive and excessive. Whenever a person has something that is considered a stressor, whether a real or imagined threat, they sometimes begin to have symptoms of anxiety or panic. I think it is important for you to investigate your feelings around the anxiousness. What is the root of your anxiety, Who benefits from your anxiousness, How does it serve you? It is important to be more mindful of your irrational thoughts. With enough practice, this will become a natural process that can help you manage anxiety. You mentioned that entering a meeting, meeting someone, travel, or anything big triggers your anxiety. Anxiety distorts our thinking by causing us to overestimate the likelihood of something going wrong, and imagine the potential consequences as worse than they really are. Sometimes, just taking a moment to think about these facts can help us recognize our irrational thoughts. For example, what would be the worst, best, and less likely outcomes, and if the worst case scenario happened would it matter in a week, month or a year from now. Please note that negative thinking, avoidance, distorted or biased thinking, and selective memory and attention causes anxiety.  Some of the ways to overcome anxiety is acceptance. For example, using the acceptance-based approach can be very beneficial. (identifying the thought, labeling it, be aware of the moment when the thought comes up, and being aware of the moment when the thought begins to recede from awareness) Another way to overcome anxiety is questioning. Using cognitive restructuring offers a way to critically evaluate potentially distorted thoughts.  Exposure is another way to overcome anxiety. Leaning into anxiety rather than avoiding it but confronting situations help to ease your anxiousness and to show that bad outcomes can still be manageable and even have an upside.  In addition, nutrition is a helpful way to overcome anxiety.  Research shows that anxiety levels can be impacted by the kinds of foods and drinks we consume. For example those who consume more saturated fats and added sugars have high anxiety levels than those with lower consumptions of saturated fats and added sugars. Eating fruits and vegetables and foods high in fiber with limited processed foods improves mood and helps with managing depression and anxiety. However, caffeine can increase your anxiety levels. Moreover, physical exercise if nothing but moving your body for 10 minutes is helpful for anxiety, this helps to improve your mood. Also, mindfulness is very helpful with addressing anxiety, some examples are:  meditation, deep-breathing, and progressive-muscle relaxations. Lastly, connecting with nature can be very important with managning anxiety. Studies show that using any of the five senses to feel closer in nature can boost your mood and put you in a more relaxed state. I hope these resources and coping strategies will be helpful for you. Best wishes to you!!
Answered on 02/03/2023

Can there be times when anxiety genuinely has no cause, and if so, what can I do during those times?

Hello.  First, I want to acknowledge the step it took for you to reach out for some clarification and understanding about your anxiety and it's triggers. Sometimes it's easier to focus on figuring out how your body responds when you feel anxious rather than starting with identifying triggers first.  Usually we feel anxious when we feel uncertain, unsafe or a situation we are in is unpredictable or unknown, and our bodies show us first how we feel.  Our bodies tend to "throw up a red flag" which is like a heads up that whatever is going on our brains do not like it.  Brain fog, pressure on our chests, racing your heart race, feeling nauseous or sweaty hands are all examples of some of the more common physical reactions when we feel anxious.  When we feel comfortable and safe our brains and body work in tandem, meaning they work together to move through the day and make various decisions.  When our body throws a "red flag" our brains and body no longer work together and someone may start to feel fight, flight or fawn.  Doing relaxation techniques like deep breathing can help refocus and connect your brain and body to work together.  It's a that moment that identifying triggers may be easier to figure out. It may also be that you experience anxiety on a relatively consistent basis which makes identifying the "trigger" difficult because you feel relatively consistent worry about a number of things and maybe focus on "worst case scenarios".  A term that we often hear is "someone is a worry wort", but the general anxiety is utilized to anticipate what may happen so they can anticipate and come up with ways to prevent the worry from coming true. Often times, someone may overthink plans and areas that are out of proportion to the impact of the events. Overthinking plans and becoming easily irritated when plans change (because they like to focus on anticipating the "what ifs" in social settings). In either case, using relaxation techniques overall helps to manage your anxiety responses while therapy helps with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to identify patterns, sources to your anxiety and triggers. I wish you all the best as you begin your journey to explore your anxiety and work through it so you begin to feel more in control and better overall.
Answered on 02/03/2023

How to overcome health anxiety and bad thoughts?

Thank you for reaching out and for submitting your question. I am sorry that you are experiencing some challenges in your life right now. There are some people who seem to live carefree lives when it comes to their health. They don’t seem to ever give it much thought. But then there are others who are forever researching symptoms and can’t stop endlessly checking themselves for all sorts of maladies. They can’t stop fearing the absolute worst. The smallest of bumps or lumps and they are off to the races in terms of imagining they must surely have a horrid, incurable condition. It can truly become a debilitating and stressful way to go through life. But it does not have to be this way. There are approximately nearly 800 million people worldwide who struggle with what is commonly known as illness anxiety disorder. It can mean you are hyper focused on your own health and/or on the health of someone close to you. The condition can be chronic. And it can be quite distressing and disabling. The near constant, endless worry disrupts function across your life. It can interfere with relationships, upset sleep, lead to depression, and can be problematic in terms of keeping up with work or school. It tends to also lead to many unnecessary doctor visits, procedures, and medical tests as medical practitioners struggle to ensure nothing really is wrong.For someone with illness anxiety disorder their physical health is not the problem. Health isn’t the concern at all. It is instead the inability to tolerate uncertainty this is the issue. A person who is better able to manage uncertainty when it comes to their health will experience a symptom and will think “I must just be stressed and working too much and that is why this is happening.” The reason it through, and they forget about it. Alternatively, when you struggle with illness anxiety disorder you brain does something different. Your mind jumps to taking a ‘we are better to be safe than end up sorry’ sort of approach. And so then there are an infinite number of possible health concerns to consider. The symptom you get focused on could very well be quite real. But what happens is you misinterpret and decide the signs you see must surely be indicative of a serious and dangerous disease process. A person with illness anxiety disorder has a brain that is not as able to be as flexible. You can’t see that there may be some other simple explanations for what you see. Instead, your brain leaps straight to worst case scenario. You think you are simply being conscientious and playing the safe card. You might believe you are justified in taking full responsibility for your health. Did you know that people who do actually have a serious medical diagnosis tend to not have illness anxiety disorder? They have complete knowledge of their condition and know what the future potentially has in store. Yet, they live well and enjoy their lives. In fact, they don’t feel unlucky and don’t want to wallow in worry. They know life is short and they want to live it. They consider worry to be a waste of precious time – their illness sometimes means life is a bit shorter and lot more uncertain, and so it is suddenly more important than ever to really have fun and enjoy the time they have. We would all like to be guaranteed a life of good health. But nobody can have that. So when it comes to illness anxiety disorder the concern then involves addressing the intolerance of uncertainty and they constant reassurance seeking. Here are some ideas to consider which may help you as you work to overcome illness anxiety disorder: Don’t go down the research rabbit holes. We have so much information literally at our fingertips. It is a wondrous thing and incredibly helpful and valuable. However, it also can be problematic. If you want to look up a local restaurant and take a look at their menu it’s great. But for in depth medical self-diagnosis? Not so great. Sure, we are all guilty of looking up symptoms when something comes up that has us not feeling our best. But the reality is this – if you research your symptoms long enough then no matter where you start you more than likely will come up with death the eventual outcome. Spoiler: we are all going to die eventually.You could spend days or weeks or months researching an illness. If you find yourself doing this, put some limits and boundaries in place. Only go to reliable sites. Limit the time you spend – you get 10 minutes only for two days per week. Illness anxiety disorder is a beast whose hunger you will never satisfy. Stop feeding the beast!Replace worry with action. Instead of worrying about getting sick, proactively spend time getting well. Increase your movement. Reduce your alcohol. Improve your eating and sleep habits. Focus yourself more in the present. If you spend all your time worrying about what might happen in the future you prevent yourself from fully living in the moment. When you find your mind leaping ahead, grab hold and pull it back into the now. When illness anxiety thoughts creep in, notice them. Appreciate the thoughts for what they are. They are just thoughts, not actual facts of predictions. Notice them and acknowledge them. Then set them aside and come back to the present. If this continues to be something you struggle with, a therapist can be a great resource. A therapist can help you work through some strategies and help you navigate handling uncertainty better.
Answered on 02/02/2023

Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you for reaching out for support and for submitting your question. I am sorry that you are having some difficulties right now. There are many people who find themselves in a similar situation. Some people have a harder time opening up as compared to others. It is a common experience. You are absolutely not alone. Being more vulnerable and open is possible. But it definitely can sometimes be easier said that done. If it is something you wish to work on, then improvement can happen. It may take a little time and effort. And it can sometimes feel scary to even just think about it. After all, it is natural to wonder if, by becoming more vulnerable, we might risk being judged. Also, if you are not accustomed to doing it, it can create a bit of emotional stress, as any new thing will do. Building walls and hiding behind them tends to be fairly easy. Stopping to tear them down, and welcoming in what is on the other side, can feel frightening. It can feel safe behind your nice wall. You know it and what we know is comfortable. But opening up could actually benefit you in ways you might not have imagined – if it’s what you truly want to do. You might find you begin to experience more intimacy with others and that can strengthen your relationships. If you do not want to do any of this, if it's an unwelcome change you do not want to genuinely, and you are being forced or coerced into it, that’s a different problem to consider. And a change that is forced upon us will likely just cause other issues and concerns. However, it seems like you do want to learn to open up more – it just causes anxiety for you when you think about it. Again, this is entirely normal. An important element in all of this is going to involve understanding why opening up to others is more challenging for you. There can be many reasons why this is happening and depending on your unique “why” the options for moving forward could look a little different. In all cases, though, change is always possible. Especially if you are motivated to make changes and are actively engaged in the process. For some people, there are painful events and experiences they have been through, and it is simply too hard to speak about those things. In other cases, it could be a case of you having had no role models to demonstrate how to express emotions well or even caregivers who made you feel that expressing yourself was not okay. Some of us are just naturally quieter and more introverted. It is just our nature to say less. It does not make you wrong. You just are not accustomed to expressing yourself. If we tend to have a lot of anxiety, that can result in it being harder to open up. A past relationship can play a strong role. If someone in the past judged you or made you feel badly when you expressed yourself, then this could translate into causing you to be quite naturally far more hesitant to open up to anyone again in future. It could be that you don’t feel confident in yourself and struggle with your self-esteem. Many people do not like who they are. And so because of this, they mentally presume others will agree – so it feels unsafe to open up and let anyone know the “real” you. There are some good reasons why you might want to try to open up more. For one, it can expand our relationships. We can know ourselves and others on a more intimate, deeper level when we begin to open ourselves up. When we become more vulnerable, more honest, there is certainly some risk involved. But the rewards will usually far outweigh the risks. While some isolation allows us to rest and recharge, too much usually can lead to lowered mood. We are, by and large, built for and need connection. If you are struggling with opening up, then speaking with a therapist might be something worthwhile to consider. A therapist will be able to help you identify and understand better what your particular barriers might be. Is a past trauma making you hesitant to open up? Or do you fear being vulnerable because your confidence is low? Maybe you just don’t know how to express your thoughts and emotions well because you grew up in a home where nobody ever really talked about stuff or even told you it wasn’t okay to do that? The reasons why can help inform the approach you take. Do you just need to learn how to communicate better? Or are there some deep wounds which need healing? In the therapy room you will find a place where it will be safe to begin practicing being vulnerable. Out in the world it can be tough. It’s risky and we might be judged negatively. A therapist is there to sit with you as you begin to open up in a way that may be unfamiliar. The therapist is there to support and guide you and will provide unconditional positive regard (they are always on your side and always on your team). In therapy you can practice expressing your emotions, fears, thought, concerns, and feelings. It is a place to get to know yourself more. And a place to safely open up. You will begin to pick up skills and strategies which you can then take home with you. The therapist can help you manage the anxiety, as well as help you begin to get better with opening up if that is your desired goal.
Answered on 02/01/2023

In what ways can I work towards easing an anxious attachment style to avoid unhealthy relationships?

Thank you for reaching our and for submitting your question. I am sorry that you are experiencing some struggles and challenges in your life right now. An anxious attachment style can definitely cause a variety of challenges in relationships of all kinds. And it is not uncommon for someone who has an anxious attachment style to engage in behavior patterns which ultimately bring about the very thing they are fearful of and which they want more than anything to avoid: abandonment. There are some traits which tend to be common in those who would be described as having an anxious attachment style: You might be too helpful to others in order to make them need you You could be overly jealous and suspiciousYou may need constant attention and supportYou could have trouble setting boundariesIt could be challenging to be aloneYou maybe ruminate over and over about small stuffYou may be overly sensitive to the moods of other people You might find you have a high emotional reactivity when a person is not reaching out to youYou could be a people pleaser who is also giving in to what others want, ignoring yourself and eventually becoming angry and resentful because of thisYou might have low self-esteemYou take on a lot of responsibility and blame in your relationshipsThere can be differing factors which play a role in the development of an anxious attachment style. Every person’s story will be completely individual and unique. So yours will, of course be dependent on your own personal history. But often there are some common factors that contribute including your overall general temperament, how attuned your primary caregivers were to you needs both when you were a baby and throughout your childhood, the environment you found yourself in (it was perhaps unstable, unpredictable, and inconsistent), and a potential history of events which were traumatic. Depending on which factors have played a role in your life, the strategies which will be employed to move towards a more secure attachment will vary. For someone living with an anxious attachment style, you are prone to having an overall lower satisfaction level from relationships as compared to an individual who is more securely attached. You may question every minor thing, worry about how responsive the other person is or isn’t being. You fret over what has happened and ruminate about what might be to come. As such, you could be seen as too needy and clingy. You might encounter challenges with communication. There could be more frequent arguing. And you generally contribute to smothering the relationship – which is the very thing all your actions were intended to prevent. Is it possible to experience a turnaround? Can you leave your anxious attachment style behind and become more secure? The answer is absolutely yes. The first step is understanding and acknowledging that this is how you relate to others. It means accepting your role in relationships and having a genuine motivation to change what will be the only thing you have control over – yourself. Therapy is a wonderful way in which to engage in the process of changing your attachment style. In the therapy room you will be able to participate in what are known as corrective emotional experiences. With the therapist, you will work on changing your belief system and you will work on leaving old memories which are proving counterproductive in your life in the past. In therapy, you have an opportunity to engage with someone who is trained to listen, and who is there to provide unconditional positive support to you. This allows you to be seen and heard in a way which you may never have experienced. You will be able, perhaps for the first time ever, to express your genuine feelings and thoughts with no risk of abandonment. Treatment can involve allowing you to get better at being vulnerable. If you want to be more securely attached, practicing vulnerability and taking some risks will help bring you toward that place. You are going to need to work on stepping away from the patterns and behaviors which have become familiar and safe. They may not be working well, but they are known. It might feel too overwhelming to do this in your current relationships. And so therapy is a great way to dip your toe in so to speak. With the therapist, you can take some risks. If you don’t know what you need, what you’re feeling, or what you want, the therapist can help you become more clear about all of these things. And then, together, you can practice expressing what you want or setting a boundary around what you don’t want. Day to day, you might presently fear voicing such things. But a therapist will be that safe person to practice with. They will work with you as you get more comfortable with expressing yourself and with taking up a bit more space in your relationships. It will also be helpful to continue the activities you are already engaged in such as journalling and identifying and combatting negative thoughts.Your attachment style is definitely something you can work on and improve. It is likely it may always be something you need to navigate and pay attention to as you continue throughout life. That is okay. It is part of your personality and makes you uniquely who you are. It does not mean there is anything wrong with you. But understanding that you have an anxious attachment style will help you learn how to better manage how you interact with others. And through better management, you will be able to realize an improvement in your relationships. It will be possible to find a healthy balance so that your needs get met and your relationships grow to be more positive and rewarding for all.
Answered on 02/01/2023

How do I take my life in control and fight my anxiousness and sad moments?

Hi Robin, Thank you so much for taking the time to ask this question; I am sure you are not alone in wanting to know a little more on how to take control back from anxiety and low mood.  It sounds like there have been quite a few things that have gone on recently which are impacting on how you are feeling. Firstly, you spoke about your late grandmother who passed away a few months ago and then also your aunt who passed away a few years ago. It is really understandable that these emotions are coming up for you right now.  When we feel low in mood or unmotivated it is really easy to fall into the trap of doing nothing. However, what we know is that when we do nothing, it just continues this cycle of low mood. We often wait for moments of inspiration or motivation, however motivation does not come before action. I would really encourage you to think about what gives you enjoyment and satisfaction within your week, or even what gave you that before, that you may be able to build back into your life - start small and slowly build this up. The reason I say this Robin is sometimes when we begin to build these things back, the motivation to do things does return too - and our mood then usually lifts as well. It sounds like at the moment you are either working or studying.  With the tenseness that you are feeling and the nervousness/anxiousness I do wonder if something like mindfulness or meditation may be helpful to help your body relax and calm; we're in a constant state of arousal right now, waiting for the next thing to happen - the mind thinks it is being helpful at these times and keeping us safe, however it is also exhausting to constantly be there! Your question Robin also makes me go back to the idea that within life we have the ups and downs, and it can be about navigating these times when they do come up rather than fighting them or trying to remove them. We are all human and we all have a range of emotions. What I tend to say to clients is - is what you are doing now workable for you with your long term goals and values in mind?  It is understandable that when a lot is going on we go for the short term relief - which can be procrastination, not doing much, avoiding - however does this work in the long term? does it remove the anxiety or sadness?  I would really recommend looking into therapy as well Robin to help you work alongside a therapist through these difficulties as it can hard to do it alone sometimes.  I do hope that helps a little. Best wishes, Nikki 
Answered on 02/01/2023

Why do I get anxiety when I’m not in control?

You asked “why” you experience anxiety when you perceive a loss of control; I am willing to provide some reasoning behind the feeling of anxiety. I hope you also allow me to provide some methods to manage the anxiety in an adaptive manner.    There are multiple reasons why a person may experience anxiety due to a perception of not having control. Some of the rationale can fall under perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, reactions to past unresolved traumatic experiences, the established need in wanting to feel prepared and thus having an influence on the outcome. Either way, the anxiety happens. Many people may have this interpretation that anxiety is the problem or issue. This sends subtle and flawed messages like feeling anxiety is abnormal, therapy goals include not having anxiety at all, and experiencing anxiety is automatically pathological. The problem is not the anxiety we feel; the issue lies within how we react or respond to the anxiety. How we respond makes the difference between healthy and unhealthy (i.e., unhealthy responses may include avoiding or procrastinating, yelling and attempts to manipulate/ control someone else’s behavior in a relationship, biting your fingernails, etc.). Our behaviors and actions driven by anxiety can present as problems in our daily lives, especially when it becomes evident your responses begin to negatively impact different areas of your life like your academics, relationships, spiritually, medical/ physical health, occupation, so on and so forth.    From your shared experience with the man you mentioned, I am sensing that you perceive an issue with how you handle your anxiety in the relationship, especially when he is not free when you want him to be. Otherwise, I get the impression you would not have mentioned the situation in your question while seeking recommendations from a licensed professional. Then again, I may be wrong; this is just a guess as we are not able to talk one on one. If you do see that your response to anxiety is an issue, it is strongly recommended to seek therapeutic services to help identify problematic reactions and replace these reactions with more adaptive responses – to help identify the type of thinking patterns that may be reinforcing how you respond to your anxiety currently (this can include unrealistic expectations we place upon ourselves and others) – to work with you on building relational maps and complete interpersonal work – to possibly address any unresolved traumatic experiences leading to certain reactivity (whether the reactions are hypervigilance, high emotional reactivity, altered perceptions of the self or how the world perceivably operates, etc.).    To address the relationship specifically - keep in mind: you may have the expectation for a man to be free when you want him to; nonetheless, the man can and has the right to have different expectations for himself, especially if you are not given the title or role of girlfriend (if those expectations were not discussed and agreed upon by both parties). Sometimes in relationships, we have unspoken contracts with one another (with certain stipulations on how we expect the other person to act in the relationship). Unspoken contracts tend to not be constructive in relationships as both parties must comprehend and agree on the boundaries and expectations set for both in the relationship. No mind-reading, no guessing. Now - If the other party does not respect the boundaries discussed, it is ultimately your responsibility to respond in the best manner for you (for example, if I have a boundary of not having a friend calling me inappropriate names in the friendship, I may respond by reiterating my boundary and removing myself from that individual to guard my social space and mental health, because I have control over whether I stay or go – how I respond). As you already know, you do not have the right to control another person; the only person you have control over is you, your thoughts, your feelings and emotions …. your reactions, action urges and actions.    To provide even more information: Anxiety tends to activate a part of our nervous system – sending us to the arousal state. Learning somatic work or relaxation techniques can address the physiological components of the anxiety. For instance, breathing exercises are often encouraged to manage the body’s temperature, slow down the heart rate when there is a spike, manage uncontrollable breathing, etc. Raised temperatures, rapid heartbeat, and hyperventilation can be identified as some common signs that indicate your body is in the aroused, alert state. You can learn several different techniques in therapy as well if you are interested, as these relaxation techniques can replace any identified problematic behaviors associated with your anxiety. You have the capability to choose a different route for yourself; the first step is to seek the knowledge and support, which is what I acknowledge you doing now.   I would like to end my feedback by describing what a friend told me. She gave me permission a while back to pass it onto others, and I encourage you to reflect on it. She told me she had a history of feeling anxiety when she perceived a loss of control. She said, once she started learning how to release the role of being the “guardian of the universe”, she found peace. Meaning, once she allowed herself to decipher what she had control over and allowed either the Higher Power, universe, nature, whomever – once she allowed this entity to take its job back as the overseer of others and the world itself, she experienced so much clarity and reduced anxiety. Remember: Anxiety is a natural feeling that can be managed appropriately. There are different methods in anxiety management; I hope what I wrote helps in deciding how you would like to manage yours. 
(Licensed, Professional, Counselor)
Answered on 01/31/2023

How can I improve my self-confidence?

Thank you for reaching out and for submitting your questions. Congratulations on your new leadership position. It is understandable to feel some anxiety in a new role. I am sorry this has been overwhelming for you, but I am glad you are seeking to support to alleviate the situation. This type of experience is quite common. In the workplace, there are many people who doubt and don’t believe in their abilities. Even if this is entirely untrue and they are very competent, they find themselves plagued by feelings of low self-confidence and a constant sense of anxiety and worry. Most likely you could quickly list out all the ways you feel you are not good at your job. But there are many reasons why you are there. There are reasons why you were hired. And there are reasons why you are still there. Also, finding yourself promoted into a new role likely means there is something to recommend you. So what are those strengths? You must have some positive attributes or else you would not be in the position in which you now find yourself. What are they? Make an actual list of these qualities. Write down everything you can think of. Include your best qualities in the workplace. Also, include your personal attributes and strengths. Keep this list handy and keep referring back to it. Add it to whenever you can. Take it a step further too – make note anytime someone at works makes a favorable comment about you or about the work you’ve done. Make a “brag” record. Your boss sends you an email telling you that the report you submitted looked great? Print that out and put in the “brag” file – which you can later pull out to remind yourself. Keep in mind that it is very easy to aim for perfect. You will never achieve perfect. Instead, you want to reach for good enough. Do your best, of course. But understand that if you try to hold yourself to perfection you will always fall short – because nothing and nobody is going to achieve this impossible standard. You will fall short every time. As will anyone who aspires to be perfect. Do your best. That is truly all you can do. Think about who could be in your support team. They don’t have to work with you. We benefit from having others to confide in. Talk about your worries and concerns. Sometimes it can help just to be able to talk things out. A colleague can be a resource and might be able to offer some helpful insights. A colleague can be a great help in these situations. Express your concerns and ask them for some actionable advice. The benefits of this include getting actionable input, but it also shows you have initiative, a drive to improve, and are conscientious about professionalism. A friend or relative who is outside of work can also potentially offer objective feedback. Perhaps a situation isn’t about you, but perhaps it is more about a bigger issue within your company that only an outside can more accurately point out. If your lack of confidence in your new role is related to a lack of skill, this is easily addressed. Now is the time to fill in those gaps. What is it you need to learn? What might you want to improve on? A lack of knowledge can absolutely contribute to anxiety. If you are not accustomed to performing a task, then patience and practice will eventually ease some of the nervousness. Be sure you seek training, feedback, and extra help as needed. Nobody expects you to know your new role as if you’ve been doing it for years. They are more than likely expecting you to have questions. If you find that you continue on with work and these feelings don’t go away, then it could be a good time to seek out a therapist. Also, if you believe these traits have followed you around for most of your life, and may even by impacting you in other areas of your life, then a therapist can help you make a plan to make some changes. In therapy, you will be able to work cooperatively with a therapist to identify some barriers that may be making it hard to build confidence. And a therapist can work with you to come up with some individualized strategies you can experiment with to move forward in a new, better way. It is entirely normal to have fears when beginning a new job or stepping into a new role at your current workplace. But these fears don’t have to linger and don’t have to negatively impact your performance or overall mood. Anytime we encounter a major change in life, anytime we step into something new and unknown, it can be scary. It can absolutely help to have a therapist there to open up about concerns with. In therapy, you can make a plan for how to make things different.
Answered on 01/31/2023

What do you do when you feel like you can’t trust yourself to make your own decisions?

Thank you for reaching out with a question regarding how you can manage your life with less anxiety.  You say that it is crippling anxiety which is making life so difficult for you at this time.  The good news is that there is specific therapy to support healing from anxiety, called Cognitive Behavior Therapy(CBT). This alongside a counselor who really listens and hears you can promote effective healing. One of the ways that CBT helps is by challenging your thinking around the anxious thoughts. For example; What is the best that can happen? What is the worst that can happen? What is the most likely thing to happen? With a therapist you can explore this 'real time' around your own specific anxiety or worry. We can look at all of the potential outcomes and sometimes even if the 'worst' thing happens it may not be as bad as you think.  We would really explore the options and help you to recognize that with time, and challenge you can start to feel less anxious and more accepting. There are many messages given to us throughout life and some include,'be perfect', 'success is the only option'. These can be debilitating and harmful when given with pressure to get it right every time. These messages are unrealistic to believe in as a life goal.  Yes, you can succeed but in order to succeed you need to learn from your mistakes.  Everybody makes mistakes. I wonder why you are feeling anxious about making a mistake? If this was your best friend what would you say to them? Starting with challenging the smaller anxieties, then building on this will give you the tools to heal. It sounds like you have been feeling anxious for such a long time that your amygdala is in overdrive and triggering your threat response inappropriately. Understanding how the chemistry of the brain and how that influences anxiety responses may be helpful for you alongside some brain retraining with CBT and non judgemental support. It will take time but if you are willing to trust the process and do the work then you can heal.  I am sending you kind thoughts and hope that you are able to connect with a therapist that you can trust and works well with you towards healing. Kindest regards Barbara Lorusso MBACP
(CPCAB, L4, Psychotherapist)
Answered on 01/31/2023

How can I better manage stress?

Something exists within you that tells you, you won't be or can't be happy until you...(fill in the gap of something your mind tells you is necessary).  If some deep belief lies inside you, you will live according to its demanding rules. You will be a slave to the belief that you won't be happy, can't be satisfied until... Honestly, ask yourself, why can I not be happy right now? What is the problem, right now, in this moment? Your mind will answer with something that must be done, accomplished, or overcome. You do realize that you are under the command of a mind that was formed in this world, and now you live according to the beliefs of others around you, right? You do realize that it burns us out to live according to a life we didn't even choose and find little value in, correct? We focus on what gets our attention. What gets our attention are things that are often negative or provide some threat to something we care about or could improve something we didn't even know we need to improve on until the fear ends up produced inside of us as a result of the show of better options from the world around us. Millions of stimuli cross your mind every day, yet not all get your attention like the pressures to perform. Why does it matter so much that you accomplish what you've been raised to believe is critical to your well-being? What happens if you let that belief go and start to live life for things you actually care about and find purpose in? Think about it. Watch a TV show, and there are underlying values pushed all the time that you may not be able to separate from because the image is so repetitive. Maybe the depiction on a show is a group of friends and the free time it takes to maintain them. Is this how we should live? Do I even value that much time with friends?  So, if you aren't doing what your mind tells you to, you could start to internalize a less than image of yourself, or a shameful, or guilty feeling that your mind says you must remedy. You have adopted a belief that you can't be happy until you fix everything you think is a problem. However, when you fix one problem, you are then stuck with ten more. Then you get better about seeing problems and never a solution because you are better at looking for problems than finding benefit in what you have.  You are not your thoughts, you have them, but they do not define you. Start to realize that you have thoughts, and they are allowed to exist and they come from some place of experience, and you can let them be without listening to them or trying to remedy them. This is how you manage life and stop the stress from seeping into your core being. You experience stuff you were meant to care about; now I ask you, is all this pain worth it? Find something that gives purpose to the pain, and you will reduce your suffering. 
Answered on 01/30/2023

When processing past trauma and stress, how do I start to heal and move on from it?

Thank you for asking your question. It’s sad that you have so much trauma from your past. It’s understandable that it’s affecting your daily life, as trauma has a way of impeding on life. It’s good that you are aware of it and its triggers and are ready to continue your healing journey.  I wish you well with your healing. Trauma can be treated so it has less impact on your life. A therapist who is trained in trauma-informed therapeutic approaches can help you with your recovery journey. So, if you have not reached out to BetterHelp to be matched with a trauma-trained and experienced therapist, I encourage you to do so. As you decide about starting therapy, I suggest using your self-care and coping skills and developing more of those skills, so you fill your toolkit, so to say, with a variety of options. When you process past painful experiences, your coping skills will help you calm yourself and release some of the built-up emotions from your heart, mind, and body.  Deep breathing, using imagery, journaling, replacing negative thoughts with neutral/positive thoughts (altering your thinking), recognizing triggers and patterns, focusing on what you can control, and caring for yourself (healthy eating, proper sleep, exercise, etc) are some ideas to help proactively cope with stressful situations, thoughts, and past experiences. Also, reflecting on your personal strengths can help you achieve a more balanced view of yourself, as well as bring some of those strengths to help with your past trauma experiences when you begin processing and healing. Another suggestion is to incorporate some other form of expressive medium, such as drawing, painting, writing song lyrics, or dance. The idea behind this suggestion is to release and explore your emotions through expression. This can be a creative way to ‘let out’ what you are experiencing inside currently regarding your past trauma and externalize it. It helps to release pent up and internalized emotions. Self-care and coping strategies should be tailored to what works for you, as each person is unique. This may take some trial and error to find what is effective for you. And, if addressing your current emotions through some of the above suggestions is too difficult right now, I encourage you to speak with a therapist who can help you work through your emotions and identify them, along with discussing the past experiences that may be triggering some of those feelings. He/she can help you strengthen your coping skills for when you feel an emotion intensely. And, as you talk with your therapist and work through your feelings, you may start experiencing more comfort and less distress. Working through your feelings is a process that may take some time, depending upon the intensity of your feelings.  I wish you all the best on your healing path. Dr. Sally Gill, LMFT
(PhD, MS, LMFT, C.C.T.S.I.)
Answered on 01/28/2023

I feel like I'm in a deep pit and I can't figure out how to get out. How do I get out of the pit?

It sounds like you are going through a very difficult time and are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities and stress in your life. It's important to take care of yourself during this time and to focus on small, attainable goals that can help you make progress and move forward. Here are a few suggestions: Break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks: Rather than trying to tackle everything at once, break your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks that you can accomplish one step at a time. Try making a daily to-do list and focus on completing them one by one.   Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a professional counselor for support. Talking to someone who can help you process your feelings and provide a different perspective can be very helpful. Consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor if you feel like you need someone to talk to.   Make a daily to-do list: Make a list of things you need to do each day and focus on completing them one by one. Look for a part-time job that could supplement your income.     Reach out for financial assistance. There are many government and non-profit organizations that can help with financial assistance for those in need. Consider reaching out to government or non-profit organizations for financial assistance.   Prioritize self-care: Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that you enjoy. Try to set aside some time for yourself each day to relax and unwind.   Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques: Mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help you manage stress and reduce feelings of overwhelm. Try incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your daily routine.   Set realistic expectations: It's important to set realistic expectations for yourself and not to expect too much from yourself. Try to set realistic expectations for yourself, and don't expect too much from yourself.   Celebrate small wins: It's important to acknowledge and celebrate small accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. This can help to boost your confidence and motivation. Try to celebrate small wins, no matter how small they may seem.   Try to find a way to delegate some of your responsibilities. For example, if you are taking care of your mother and sister, can you find other family or friends who can help you with their care? Also, there are community service programs that can help with these kind of situations.    It's important to remember that change takes time, and it's okay to take small steps towards your goals. Keep in mind that it's important to take care of yourself first, so you can be there to take care of others.
Answered on 01/27/2023