Worry Answers

Why am I like this and overthink everything?

This sounds really overwhelming for you and it sounds like it is impacting very much on your day-to-day experience of life. I can see that these anxious thoughts and over-thinking are very powerful, as they are having a physical affect on you, which sounds debilitating. I can see you also experience occasional slumps which can be difficult to pull yourself out of - this sounds like when the anxiety has literally exhausted you, you experience this perhaps, as your mind and body are so worn out? Anxiety is a natural response, that is there to protect us - when we are in danger, we recognize this and adrenaline is released so we can either "fight" the threat or "flight", escape the threat. The problem arises when we are not in any danger yet somehow we are still being triggered to experience anxiety. But there is not always something there, or at least it is not something that we feel we should be unduly concerned about. An example might be, experiencing extreme anxiety about giving a presentation. Whilst a certain amount of adrenaline and anxiety can help with our performance and is useful, excessive anxiety can have the opposite affect - plus the fact we are not really in danger. A normal amount of anxiety about a presentation would be completely manageable and beneficial. An unhealthy amount would cause us to perhaps not be able to do the presentation at all. So, how do we look at managing anxiety? As a therapist I am trained integratively - this means I use different approaches as appropriate. The approach I usually adopt is the Humanistic stance. This approach is holistic, looking at the whole person as opposed to just singular areas (such as just the anxiety). I believe that everyone is capable of becoming the best possible version of themselves and that we inherently understand what is best for us - however, our experiences in life alongside other people's influences, can cloud our judgement and understanding of what is best for us. This is where counseling comes in! Being listened to by someone who won't judge you, will hold you in positive regard and has empathy with your situation. For many, this can be a unique experience as unfortunately not everyone has someone safe to share their experiences with. With these conditions, it is possible to reflect on situations and also our own role within them. This enables self-awareness and growth. Becoming self-aware enables us to make beneficial changes in our lives and better understand ourselves and what works for us. For anxiety, as well as looking holistically at the person's situation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a really useful tool. CBT looks at how our underlying thoughts (of which we are not always conscious of) informs the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. This in turn will be displayed in our behaviors. When our thinking patterns are negative, we will feel perhaps fearful or distrustful of things, and this will show as anxiety. By challenging our thinking patterns through CBT exercises, we can look at considering all aspects of the evidence available around a situation, so that thoughts become more logical and realistic. I hope this has been useful for you!
Answered on 11/14/2022

How do I calm my anxiety before a test? How to stop thoughts that are not beneficial

Hello Adriana, Thank you for your sharing about your anxiety before a medical licensing exam. It is possible to tackle the nervous feelings and non-beneficial thoughts with techniques that will help you from start to finish. You have worked hard and you have been preparing for this exam for a long time. Think about all the study hours as deposits you have made in the medical license account. That studying happened because you took the time and made the effort to study chapter by chapter and day by day. I am going to lay out some positive psychology exercises, which are evidenced based techniques that have been proven to help with anxiety.  I hope these offer you support and structure:  Starting now, spend ten minutes each morning visualizing yourself taking the exam and doing well. Take deep breaths and if negative thoughts or feelings pop out, simply thank those feelings for sharing and keep going with the positive visualization. It is natural for negative feelings to pop up, but it also important to be in charge of your own visualization. There is a technique that is called square breathing which helps when people are anxious.Inhale for four counts, then hold for four counts, then exhale for four counts, and pause for four counts, and then start again on the inhale for four counts, etc. Square breathing can be used anytime, and anywhere. Use this if needed during the exam. Practice it each day to get used to the technique so that way you feel more prepared to do when you are having anxiety. Some people like to create a vision board and use poster board and cut magazine photos that capture their vision of passing the exams, or other important life goals. This may sound silly, however; the process of making the vision board is helpful in that it does give someone a physcial picture that represents the manifestation of their dream. That vision board or picture can become a source of positve energy in someone's personal space. Each time the person sees the vision they have created this helps that person stay focused on the postive outcome they are seeking. If possible, align your bed time for the same time each night and your wake time for the same time each morning. This optimizes sleep and good sleep is key. A daily gratitude exercise has been found to offer many people a positive forecast about their life, thus helping them through challenges. Repeat your key phrase over and over again. Imagine those words cover you with their golden light and guide you!  Tap into whatever phrase, mantra or song may cheer you on to victory!  Classic examples include:You Got This!!!Play like a Champion!Just Keep Swimming (Dory from Finding Nemo)  I hope that you find some of these suggestions helpful or that these examples helped you recall different tactics that have helped you before. I wish the you the best! YOU GOT THIS!! Kathryn 
Answered on 11/14/2022

How to stop a life long thought?

I heard many times when you talk about this fear of losing your friends which feels connected to fear of abandonment. You speak of this fear as something that you attempt to banish and, get rid of, dispel or disprove or see as absurd. Your actions seem to parallel the fears and thought that this part of you has? You say there seems a part of you that likes it.  I wonder what it may feel like to listen and communicate more kindly toward that part of yourself that fears losing friends, to become its friend in a way? It may stop chasing as hard when it feels heard and loved and cared for by you?  Many times thoughts and feelings which are difficult or uncomfortable are something we naturally want to escape or get away from, and we tend to try and push or shut them down. Depressing them but still aware of them, in the background, they may seem to build in strength. A side effect of this can be that when we push down uncomfortable feelings, some good feelings can be limited also, by trying not to feel the difficult feelings you can be left with a more limited range of good feelings.  In listening to this feeling you are acting as a sluice tap on a dam of water to gently release some of the built up strength of feeling the fear has, much like a dam with pressure building behind it.  Therapy can offer a safe and supported space for you to feel heard, which includes all of yourself. I can offer a space which is judgement free to allow you to talk about those more difficult feelings, where you can begin to explore them and understand them in an empathetic environment with unconditional positive regard, which are key elements for supporting you to explore the inexpressible in ways that can become helpful toward feeling more at ease and accepting with all of your thoughts and feelings and through this awareness a shift can occur for you creating more choice and perspectives which being deeply heard can provide. 
Answered on 11/12/2022

How do you prevent anxious thoughts from waking you up at night?

Hello Bella, This is a great question. Anxiety is a common problem that often accelerates at nighttime. The reason being, is this is the time of day when you get quiet. Activities slow down. You aren't as physically busy at bedtime as you are during the day. Therefore, the brain sometimes becomes more active. Your thoughts may drift to thinking of things that normally wouldn't bother you. The brain may overthink or second guess your decisions throughout the day. Sometimes it seems to look for things to worry about, such as conflict or drama. The spotlight effect of anxiety makes the problem seem bigger than it is. It can magnify the problem giving you tunnel vision which makes it hard to see the solutions.  Author, Jen Sincero says, "There are no stressful situations - only stressful ways of perceiving situations." She goes on to say worrying is like walking around hitting yourself in the head with a rock over and over, so you are prepared in case you get hit in the head by a rock one day. Worrying is often the worst case scenario amplified to the point of causing you physical symptoms: insomnia, headaches, stomach discomfort, panic attacks, etc. Even if the worst case scenario (which really isn't likely) does occur, you will have experienced it twice by worrying about it ahead of time.  You seemed to have mastered control of your thoughts during the day. The struggle is mostly occurring at night. Here are some ideas to help you manage your thoughts before bedtime: 1) Keep a notebook or journal near your bed. Write down any intrusive thoughts that come to mind. Consider this activity a brain dump. You are downloading your thoughts from your head and onto the paper. Don't think of it as a formal journal entry or homework. Don't worry about grammar or writing in complete sentences. This is just an exercise to get rid of the anxious thoughts. Once the thoughts are on paper, the brain lets go of them. You will want to keep is close when you are sleeping in case you wake up and need to write any new thoughts down.  2) Try to limit screen time and blue light before bedtime. Screen time can stimulate brain activity and may contribute to keeping you awake. The blue light that your phone emits (which is as bright as daylight), discourages sleep. There are ways to filter out the blue light. Try using a blue blocking app, like Twilight for Android phones or Unblue for Apple phones. iPhones have a night shift setting to make nighttime viewing more bedroom friendly. It's a good habit to to turn your phone off 30 minutes before you go to sleep. It's also helpful to charge it across the room on in another room, so you are not bothered by distractions. Another idea is to turn off the notifications if you don't need your phone for an alarm in the morning.  3) Make a routine for yourself before going to bed. Do the same thing every night in order. This sequence lets your brain know it's time to settle down. Go to bed at the same time each night. An article from Harvard Health explains a regular sleep schedule not only tends to increase the amount of sleep people get each night, it can also improve the quality of sleep. 4) Listening to a guided meditation or sleep story may be helpful. The brain will have something relaxing to focus on versus finding things to think about and/or worry about. There is an app called Balance that offers 3 minute and 5 minute meditations. You can also select sleep specific meditations that are longer.  5) Use externalization to shift the anxiety to a physical form. Picture yourself conquering the problem. For example, you can imagine yourself sitting by a stream. Use imagery to make the picture vivid in your mind. Take each worry and place it on a leaf. Watch the leaf float downstream and away from you. Picture it leaving your field of vision and going far away where it can no longer bother you.  6) Talk back to your brain. When anxious thoughts pop up, talk back and tell your brain, "No, I'm not going to think about that." Picture yourself hitting the "delete" button. "NO, Brain. We aren't going there." DELETE.  7) Talking to a therapist might also be helpful. A professional can listen and offer coping strategies. A therapist is a nonjudgemental party who can help you gain insight about the root of the anxiety. A therapist can also help to identify potential triggers and make a specific plan for managing each one. 
(M.Ed, L.P.C.)
Answered on 11/06/2022

How can I approach anxiety, negative thinking and the circus in my head. How can I focus on genuine intention?

Hi John, It's great you're reaching out for some help. I can't say for sure what's causing your anxiety based on your message alone, but I can give you some ideas of how your challenge would be approached from a Cognitive Behavioral perspective. 1. Because our thinking influences our feelings and behaviors, we have formed beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world around us based on how we have interpreted our past experiences. You may have some beliefs about yourself (and/or women) that contribute to your anxiety. That anxiety in turn seems to be contributing to you have racing thoughts that make having the conversations with women seem overwhelming. By identifying what those underlying beliefs are and gaining a little insight into where they come from, you can start to replace irrational thinking with more adaptive ways of thinking. By doing so, you'd decrease your anxiety and feel more confident with these situations. 2. Coping skills are also huge. There are so many that can help with anxiety, and the key is to try several of them, see what works for you, and then practice them so that using them becomes automatic when faced with anxiety-producing situations. For example, deep breathing (breathing in through your nose for five seconds and out of your mouth for seven seconds) can be a great quick way to reduce anxiety. Pleasant imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness and grounding techniques, and many distraction activities like counting backwards can all help. 3. In addition to the immediate strategies to reduce anxiety, preventative measures could involve improving your self-esteem. Recognizing your strengths (and allowing other people to help you recognize your strengths) could improve self-esteem and thus reduce anxiety in these situations.  4. Cognitive behavioral therapy often involves role playing, and role playing stressful situations can help someone to prepare for situations that they know will produce anxiety. By practicing how you will approach a conversation with a woman, that preparation may help you to feel more confident once in that conversation.  5. Writing down your thoughts as they occur is another strategy. You described a "circus in your head" and sometimes it can be useful just to break down what's going on. Being able to look at those thoughts on paper or on a computer can also help us to more objectively evaluate them. Anyway, those are some ideas of how a Cognitive Behavioral therapist may approach your challenge. I hope that you'll consider participating in therapy. What you're describing is very common and can absolutely be worked on if you're open to doing so. I hope you have a nice rest of your weekend, and take care. Nicholas DeFazio, MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC
Answered on 11/06/2022

How can I feel better about myself or feel like I know my purpose?

Thank you for your question, and please know you are not alone in feeling the way you do. Having a purpose, and knowing that we are fulfilling our purpose, is very important, and often our sense of self is heavily influenced by this. Sometimes feeling overwhelmed can be just from being really busy with very little breaks, but it can also be a sign that it is a good time to take a look at life and really figure out if what we are doing right now matches where and what we want to be down the road. A change in direction is sometimes needed, and one way to determine if that is the best thing to do is to work with a therapist or someone with a similar role to help you evaluate your current path and explore the pros, cons, and where your interests and attention really fall in comparison to where you are spending your time, energy and sometimes money.  Change and redirection can look like all kinds of things depending on circumstances and resources or options available, so recognizing the big and little pictures can help us figure out where to start. For example, maybe there is a way to change up your daily or weekly schedule, or shift environments, and that is what makes the difference. I am just tossing this out as examples, and understand that it might not apply to your individual life. Having emotional support can also be very helpful during these types of times. If you have a strong support system, or a particular go-to person for when you talking things out would be helpful, it is OK to lean on them. However, sometimes that support just isn't there or maybe we aren't ready to share what we are struggling with just yet. That is where resources like BetterHelp can be beneficial. It is also important to stay in touch with how you are feeling, as hopelessness and anxiety could be indicators of something else going on besides your current situational/life stressors. Additionally, try to stay mindful about how you are coping and what your daily habits look like as you are coping with these feelings. If at any point you feel like you are not able to handle things, please call 988 for immediate help. This is like 911 for mental health emergencies.
Answered on 11/04/2022

What is the best step to deal with continuous anxiety, lack of self-confidence?

This spinning world seems to pick up speed every day. If you're finding modern life overwhelming, you're not alone. Anxiety diagnoses are on the rise. This is in part due to the falling stigma against mental disease, but it is also due to a rise in stimuli. As humans continue to live in bustling cities with demanding lives, it can be difficult to control your anxiety. Technology has not made it easier. With constant notifications and excessive screen time, your attention can be pulled in many different directions. These stimuli exacerbate anxiety. If you're dealing with big life changes or inner dilemmas, the background noise just piles on to that. The sense of everything building and pressure rising, can lead to a full blown panic attack if you're not careful. So how do you limit and tame your anxiety? The first step to calming yourself is to recognize when you are anxious. Does your body tense up? Do you get short of breath? Do you feel like any extra pressure added will make you snap? These are signs of stress and anxiety. Being self-aware enough to know when you're anxious is crucial to reducing your anxiety. You will get better at this over time. At first, you may only know you're anxious when you're about to blow your top. Reflect on what caused that feeling and the points that increase your anxiety. Realizing what compounds your anxiety will make you more prepared the next time you are in a similar situation. Once you can identify situations that trigger anxiety, the next step is to observe it. Picture yourself on a runaway train. As you speed along the tracks, you feel scared and helpless. This train is made of everything that triggers your anxiety. Now picture yourself, not riding on the train, but watching it from a safe distance. You watch everything that adds stress to your life, and instead of choosing to ride on the train, you just observe. From this vantage point, you can have a lot of clarity. To choose not to ride the train, to observe, if even for a moment, you buy yourself time to come up with a plan. If a situation in your life is raising your anxiety, after observing it mentally, focus on what you can control. Often, lack of control is a major contributor to anxiety. By focusing on things you can control, you can regain a sense of agency over your anxiety. This focus means blocking out the things you can't control as well. Like everything, this requires practice. The key to this step is realizing that, by allowing yourself to be anxious over what you can't control, you are sapping energy away from what you can control. Any energy you spend on being anxious is energy you are taking away from something else in your life. In specific terms, this means that if you're spending your day fretting about the weather, you're not spending that energy engaged in your work or being present with your friends and family. By focusing, you can channel anxious energy and use it as a motivator towards what you can control. The more work you do while you're relatively calm means, the more you'll be prepared for anxiety. Developing a plan to cope with your anxiety before it hits means that all you have to do is carry out the plan when you're feeling anxious. If it's within your means financially, consider consulting a professional.  Whether it's your family doctor, a licensed therapist, psychiatrist or the help from a life coach they all have tools and resources to help you. The stigma against taking care of your mental health is falling, with more people taking medication and seeking therapy. Do not let this stigma get in the way of improving your health. Not only can anxiety make your life miserable, but the added stress can also cause health problems down the road. As you navigate your anxiety, developing coping methods are essential to handling stress. Learning how to identify anxiety, distancing yourself from it, and channeling it all takes time and practice. With the help of BetterHelp this can all be easier. Taking care of your mental health is essential to improving your overall health. Your quality of life will improve as well. With anxiety in check, you will have more room for actually living.
Answered on 10/30/2022

How can I manage generalized anxiety naturally?

Thank you for your question. Firstly, I would encourage you to do some work around disciplining your mind as anxiety causes your thoughts to excel and before you know it you are engulfed with irrational thoughts, tending to go to worse case scenarios.  A key is to understand what you are fearing (as anxiety is 9/10 times fear based and your mind making up circumstances that have not happened) - once you work out the fears you can work on the probabilities of those circumstances happening and rationalize with them. From there you can start to put challenges in.  The next step is to work on disciplining your mind, so having a key word such as 'discipline' when your thoughts start to wander, focus on the word and tell yourself discipline for example and disrupt the thoughts and bring yourself back. Another tool, is to count back from 5,4,3,2,1 and bounce off into a positive thought, it can be helpful to carry a list of positive thoughts/things going on in your life - so you can grab the list and complete the activity. Breathing - as cliche as it sounds, you should never underestimate the benefit of knowing how to control your breathing through anxious breathing. As when anxiety hits it will end up taking over and controlling you. So you must focus on what you can control in that time which is your breathing. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds and breathe out for seconds. This will allow you to hold control and calm your physiological state and your mind. Additionally, depending on what you are worrying about you can put plans/goals in place in order to feel more secure in that area, i.e. if it is financial worry. So, if you are worried about money, is there an option to put a savings plan in and make some cut backs, which will allow to save and become more financially stable.  I hope this is a start for you :) 
(Counsellor, Master, of, Mental, Health, Science)
Answered on 10/30/2022

I wanted to know how I can manage anxiety?

Hi Kelly, I am sorry to hear that you have been affected by anxiety recently, to help you make a balanced decision on how is best for you to manage it, I will give you some general information on what it is and how therapists may work with it. I think the first thing to note about anxiety is that it is a natural process our minds and bodies go through and it is experienced by everyone at some point. With this in mind, it is beneficial to remember that anxiety is only an issue when it becomes life limiting in some way. The function of it is to keep us safe when we perceive a threat or danger. The Amygdala in our brain does this by producing chemicals that tell our heart to divert blood flow to the muscles and lungs so that we are ready to take action. Often, our brain unconsciously perceives a threat and can start the physical process before we are even aware there is a threat in our vicinity. So when we begin to sweat, our breathing becomes faster and our heart rates speed up without us understanding why, it can be quite disconcerting.  This process has been a part of our self-preservation instincts since we were cave people and the fact that you are here means that your ancestors saw the lion in the savannah and ran, rather than stopping to admire the scenery. The issue in our modern world is that the same level of anxiety that would be raised if we were confronted with a lion can also be raised when we are faced with social events or new experiences. Something that is present when anxiety is active no matter the situation that has provoked it, is that we feel out of control about something. Part of our basic needs in order for us to be content and happy as humans is the need to feel in control, as this gives us security and the feeling of being safe. It sounds to me from the information you have provided that this was the case in both experiences you had with anxiety. The pandemic, although implemented to keep our societies safe, has indeed caused issues with mental wellbeing for a lot of people, especially as there was no fixed dates of when lockdowns would lift and life could return to normal. This would most certainly provoke a feeling of being out of control for the majority of the population. We are social animals which means that we thrive on connection and deteriorate when segregated. This combined with personal difficulties or issues within the home, means that we as therapists have seen an unprecedented dip in mental wellbeing as a result. Your father being taken to hospital would be an especially difficult time for you I am sure. The worry of the impact of his illness on not only your father but also wider consequences would certainly provoke a feeling of being out of control. Your feelings of security that are embedded within your relationship with your father, would only serve to maximize the feelings of anxiety the longer he was absent from your life also. I do hope that he is recovering well. Anxiety can be treated in a number of ways, including but not limited to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Mindfulness techniques. Through CBT we are able to work with changing how the mind perceives the threat that triggers anxiety, Mindfulness can help to manage symptoms of anxiety through relaxation, breathing and visualization techniques. There are many ways that anxiety can be treated to improve your quality of life, lots of clients choose a multilayered approach to their treatment which can work really well. Not all therapists will have specialisms in every approach so if you are looking to experiment with what works best for you, it may be a good idea to look for a therapist who practices an integrative approach. This is a therapist who has experience in more than one type of therapy and will be able to guide you in your journey.  I hope that my answer has helped you come to an understanding of what anxiety is and has given you reassurance that there are interventions that can help you manage it. I wish you well with your mental wellbeing in the future.  Best Wishes  Claire Howdle
(Psychodynamic, Counsellor)
Answered on 10/28/2022

What do you do to start feeling things and show emotions, as I’m told I’m like a blank page

Hi Wolf! Thank you so much for reaching out for support on the BetterHelp platform! I am so glad that you have taken some time to ask this essential on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum. It appears that the nature of your question is about showing your feelings and emotions to others. I can tell that you are ready to begin the journey of connecting to your emotional sense of self. I hope that I can offer you some helpful advice on how to further contemplate your thoughts as well as process your feelings and emotions. I am so glad that you are considering the possibility of meeting with a therapist on BetterHelp in order to seek advice and guidance at this time. Based on what you wrote about in your initial question, it sounds like you have been wondering what the first steps are in the process of recognizing and managing your emotions. I think that coming up with ways for emotional expression is a great goal for you to start with. At first thought, what are some of the most pressing feelings that you have been having lately? From my perspective, there are three main steps in the process of emotion identification. The first step is to identify what specific feelings you are having. Feelings identification can take a lot of practice. It is absolutely something that you can learn to do more easily over time. I recommend checking out the feelings wheel for some ideas about what you are feeling specifically. Here is the link to the feelings wheel: https://ytp.uoregon.edu/sites/ytp2.uoregon.edu/files/Feelings%20Wheel%20in%20PDF.pdf The second step in the emotion identification process is realizing why you may be feeling the way you do. An example of this could be, "I feel happy because I am doing my favorite activities with my closest friends." Utilize this outline to formulate your reasons for feeling the way you do: "I feel ________ because __________." If you are willing to write down your thoughts and feelings, that could be very beneficial for you. Take some time to check out the online journal available as a resource on BetterHelp. If you prefer to utilize hand writing techniques, you can purchase a lined notebook as a therapeutic journal. I recommend that you identify at least one feeling per day and start charting your emotions in a daily mood log. Over time, you may begin to notice some themes coming up with your overall emotions. The third step in the process of feeling identification is going to be checking for congruency. An example of congruency would be: "I feel frustrated that my friend has not yet returned my phone calls." This is a congruent feeling because it makes sense that some one would begin to feel frustrated with their friend who has not yet called back. The concept of congruency is important because it can be beneficial to check in with yourself to see if what you are feeling makes sense for you. In some cases, you may notice that your feelings are incongruent. That is okay for the time being. Simply recognize it and move forward. Ultimately, the primary goal of this step to is begin to become as congruent as possible with your emotional self. Once you have come to a point of feeling more comfortable with emotion identification, I recommend that you begin to practice emotion regulation skills. Being emotionally regulated means that you can still have strong feelings but in the moment you can manage these feelings really well. An example of an emotionally regulated individual is some one who feels angry but speaks in a calm, controlled and cool headed manner. Construct your own version of what it means to be emotionally regulated and come up with a plan for change. It appears that you have received some feedback from people in your life that you may be a blank slate. How does that feel to hear that from others? Would you consider what you have been through to be traumatic? Essentially, it is up to you to make a decision about whether or not your experiences were traumatic for you. If you decide to pursue an alternative explanation, it is alright to consider a differential diagnosis. I realize that you stated that you can become overly attached to people and that thought of them leaving you is petrifying. How long have you had this concern? Would you say that you have a fear of abandonment? How would you describe your overall attachment style? If you would be willing to create a bird's nest drawing, you may be able to find some deeper meaning and insight into your own personal attachment style. This idea is something that you can certainly bring to the therapy session. This is the link to the research by Donna Kaiser and Sarah Deaver (2009) on the topic of the bird's nest drawing: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ833506.pdf In regards to your support system, who might be helpful for you to connect to about this? Who do you consider to be kind and supportive for you? It is important that you build up your supports and focus on making healthy and stable connections with family, friends, etc. Do what you can to reach out to people you trust. It may be helpful to ask other people how they manage worry in order to get some ideas for how to manage things yourself. At this time, I recommend beginning individual counseling sessions on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. It is up to you how often you would like to attend therapy sessions. Having a safe space for you to voice your concerns may be very beneficial for you at this time. You can also consider attending a groupinar or joining a group. There are key elements specific to group therapy that could be helpful for you, as well. Thank you again, Wolf, for your time asking this important question on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum! I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way! I want to wish you the best of luck on your therapeutic journey. Have a great day!
Answered on 10/27/2022

Am always worried about my future and how it's gonna be soon, is this wrong?

Thank you for reaching out, Kendrick.  It sounds to me that you may be experiencing anticipatory anxiety; which describes a fear or worry around things that could happen, more often being bad things. It can happen in a lot of different contexts, but it commonly focuses on things you can’t predict or control, but these worries are normal. They can become signs of anticipatory anxiety if they start to impact your day-to-day life.  Anticipatory anxiety can range from a passing nervousness to a debilitating sense of dread. You might notice; difficulty concentrating, trouble managing emotions and mood, emotional numbness, loss of interest in your usual hobbies, jumpiness or restlessness, nausea, appetite loss and sleep problems to name a few.  With anticipatory anxiety, you might spend a lot of time imagining worst-case scenarios. Over-focusing on these unwanted outcomes can also increase your frustration and hopelessness. Anticipatory anxiety isn’t a mental health diagnosis on its own, but it can appear as a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder. Anticipatory anxiety can cause plenty of distress and keep you stuck in looping anxious thoughts. Here are some coping tips that can help you take action to break this cycle. Physical needs: things like sleep, nutrition, and exercise can play an important part in the management of anxiety symptoms, including anticipatory anxiety. Cutting back on caffeine and practicing relaxation can help with sleep habits. Physical activity can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and stress too. Check in with yourself: the way you talk to yourself about anxiety matters.  It’s natural to worry about bad things happening. When these worries start to take over, remind yourself (kindly) that spending too much time thinking about negative things can prevent you from enjoying the good things in life. If you tend to criticize yourself for your fears and anxious thoughts, think about what you might say to a friend who shared similar thoughts. Talk to others: It’s not always easy to talk about what you’re afraid of, but sometimes voicing those fears can help them feel less frightening. Letting loved ones know about your anxiety can also help, especially if you feel isolated by your symptoms. Friends and family can offer support by listening and providing positive distractions Grounding: grounding exercises can help interrupt distressing or anxious thoughts and reconnect to the present. Some of them involve physical items, like snapping a rubber band against your wrist, holding ice, or stroking a soothing grounding object. Many grounding techniques happen in your own thoughts, so you can practice them anywhere, at any time. Professional help: if your own coping strategies aren’t providing much relief, it’s worth exploring professional help. Anxiety is pretty common, and most people need a bit of extra support to live comfortably with it. Therapy is usually the best way to explore issues involving anxiety. A therapist can help you examine sources of stress in your life and begin working to address possible causes of anticipatory anxiety. Therapists can also help you identify harmful or less effective coping methods, like avoiding the source of your fear or numbing with alcohol, and offer guidance on more helpful strategies. The future holds only surprises and uncertainties, so it’s normal to spend some time wondering what lies ahead. This can actually help you and it’s never a bad idea to prepare for a range of possibilities. However, when anticipatory anxiety becomes so severe it prevents you from enjoying the present, it may be time to seek professional support, so if your quality of life is affected, maybe it’s time to seek professional or external help.
Answered on 10/26/2022

What is overthinking? How do I know if I have anxiety to a point that is not normal?

Over thinking is a state of unproductive thought - it could involve the past or future, but you will be absorbed on your focus to this event. In overthinking it might appear we are going over the same thought in a loop without finding any resolution. We might reflect back on the past and wish we had never taken a certain course of action, holding regrets about the event. On the other hand it might be that we spend time thinking about something we never said last week, this involves constantly dwelling on the thought and becoming preoccupied with it. Sometimes overthinking can take up space in our mind when we should be giving our thought to our work or something else that we need to be progressing with. Often being preoccupied can lead to anxiety or depression. One of the signs of this condition is lying awake at night with a constant flow of thoughts going though the mind. Overthinking is a protection process - you might find yourself not being able to sleep because you are worried about your finances or maybe you had an argument you didn't really need to have with a close friend. We never overthink on purpose - who would say to themselves "today I am going to fill my mind with an uncomfortable thought." If you find yourself falling into this pattern you will want to find ways to ease your mind. Often taking a good walk in nature can be good for you. Mindfulness is a great skill to learn it helps you step back from the problem and look at the issue from a distance. When you learn and it will take time to do this you learn to seek a different perspective of what you worry about. You might want to consider that thoughts are not facts just because you think something it does not have to be true. Always challenge the evidence on your thinking when you learn to do this you can spend a lot less time in a state of worry. An example of this could be 'I must have upset my boss he did not speak to me today." Have you examined all the facts - perhaps he was very busy himself?
(BA, (Hons))
Answered on 10/26/2022

How to deal with anxiety and intrusive thoughts relating to ADD (ADHD)

Hi Snail! Thank you very much for asking this valuable question on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum. Based on your question, I can tell that you are seeking out advice on how to manage symptoms of anxiety and ADHD as well as keep a healthy balance in your relationship. It is really good to see that you are reaching out for support on this important topic. Based on what you wrote in your initial question, I can tell that you have been feeling anxious and have been experiencing intrusive thoughts. How would you describe your overall symptoms of anxiety? How often do you feel anxious? Would you be willing to rate your anxiety on a Likert scale of 1 to 10 on a daily basis? It might be a good idea for you to complete the GAD-7, which is a standardized assessment for measuring anxiety. This will give you an idea as well as a base line for your symptoms of anxiety. In addition to keeping track of your anxiety symptoms and practicing self assessment skills regarding your experience of anxiety, I recommend trying some relaxation and mindfulness techniques. These methods include deep breathing, sensory grounding techniques, mindfulness meditation activities, and progressive muscle relaxation. From my perspective, mindfulness simply means being present in the moment and focusing on the here and now. If you need some assistance with getting started with utilizing these approaches, check out the myriad of handouts available on Therapist Aid. Also, would you be willing to keep track of your thoughts and feelings by participating in some therapeutic writing or drawing exercises? If you have not done so already, I recommend that you practice writing in a therapeutic journal. Utilize the feelings wheel as a means to connect to your emotional self and document those feelings. Through the process of journaling, you may be able to achieve some greater insight into your experience. Also, you may want to make steps towards identifying your areas of strengths as well as your areas on concern. After some time, you can certainly begin seeking out themes that come up in your writing. It may be helpful for you to create some therapeutic drawings about your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Start with creating a simple scribble drawing when you are having heightened moments of anxiety or stress. The spontaneous aspect of scribble drawings can be an awesome outlet for creative expression. This technique can foster a holistic, healing experience. Did you know that coloring within a circle can produce a sense of relaxation and even lower heart rate and blood pressure? Check out the free mandala outlines that are available online. You can print or purchase a mandala coloring book and draw within the circular format. Perhaps you may want to write your thoughts in the circle as a means to organize the intrusive thoughts that you have been having. Ultimately, it is completely up to you how you want to process and address your thoughts. It is a great thing that you feel like you are in an equal relationship with your partner at this time. What has that been like for the two of you to be in a loving relationship? It sounds like that despite the fact that you are in a loving relationship, you have thoughts that your partner might leave you. When did you begin having these thoughts? How long have you been feeling concerned that you may be emotionless? It appears you have the ability to be consciously aware of your thoughts and that you have been trying your best to rationalize your ways of thinking. I recommend checking out the Wise Mind concept, which is a dialectical behavioral therapy approach. This concept purports that there are three aspects to the mind: the rational, emotional and wise mind. The ideal of the wise mind is to combine the rational and emotional aspects and be intuitive. Do what you can to create a thought balance and combat each negative thought with a more positive one!It seems like it would be helpful for you to check in with your partner and tell your partner how you are feeling. I know that you mentioned that you are in a long distance relationship. Perhaps you may consider writing a letter to your partner or sending a greeting card with a hand written and personalized message. If you can coordinate a scheduled time to talk on a weekly basis, that could be great for both of you to continue to maintain a healthy relationship. I can tell that you are trying to navigate the challenges of having a long distance relationship, which is a really good sign.At this time, I recommend individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. BetterHelp offers counseling appointments on the phone, through live chat or via video conferencing. You can also join a group or attend a groupinar. If things do not improve after some time, you could certainly connect with a therapist and your partner in a couples therapy session. Essentially, it is up to you to decide what will work best for you, your individual needs and your situation. Lastly, I want to touch base about the symptoms of ADHD that you have been having. It sounds like you believe some of the anxiety symptoms that you are having are related to ADHD. When were you diagnosed with ADHD? What treatment recommendations has your primary care provider made for you thus far? I can forward you the following information that may clarify your concerns about ADHD. I hope that information in these pdf documents will be useful to consider: http://downloads.pearsonclinical.com/videos/100317-BASC3/BASC-3-ADHD-Diagnosis-Evaluation-and-Treatment-of-ADHD-Webinar-Handout-100317.pdf http://images.pearsonclinical.com/images/assets/basc-3/basc3resources/DSM5_DiagnosticCriteria_ADHD.pdf Thank you again so much for asking this valuable question on the BetterHelp platform! I really admire your goal of trying to reassure yourself as well as maintain an equal and healthy relationship with your partner. I hope that my response will benefit you in some way. Take good care and have a nice day!
Answered on 10/25/2022

How can I combat social anxiety in certain situations?

Hi, thank you for your question. Sometimes we can find it difficult to share about ourselves, when feeling shy this can link to how we where at a younger age.  A way to help share more about yourself is to ask others questions first then slowly open the door. Explore your personality, express who you're as a person. Talk about what you love, your hobbies, passions your wants/desires in life.  When you was growing up did you struggle speaking with people/make friend's? When we grow up not having the social norms around meeting people and speaking about ourselves this can stunt us later in life.  Do you feel rejection when sharing who you are? This can be from parents not giving us attachment that we crave and allowing ourselves to grow. Practice being vulnerable with the people that know you best, explore who you want to be when around people. Ask the question: "Is this really me? When speaking with other people, am I wearing a mask so people don't see the real me?" It sounds like there is an element of anxiety that is coming in when you're trying to connect with others, this anxiety can be reduced when we explore mindfulness techniques such as:  Listen. Name one thing that you hear when you listen with your ears. Look. Name one thing that catches your attention when you look around. Smell. Name a scent that you notice when you take a sniff with your nose. Touch. Name an object that you enjoy feeling with your hands.   Or basic breathing: Basic breathing is simple, straightforward meditation that uses the breath to settle the mind. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Observe your breath on the inhalation. Observe your breath on the exhalation. When the mind wanders, gently bring it back to focusing on your breath.   Basic mindfulness can help calm us down and give us a chance to slow down, to the point where when we go into social interactions, we can speak slowly and look at what we want to share. Whenever you're in a conversation, it's up to you what you share and how far you take the conversation with that information.  Thank you for taking the first step in seeking help. I would encourage seeking out further help to this issue as it may be a simple fix over what we think is a complicated one.
Answered on 10/25/2022

How can I begin to feel like myself again

I think that you have to find out what has occurred and get to the root of the problem of what has made you feel like this and not yourself.  You have to find ways to regulate your emotions.  Depending on thoughts, it would be a good idea to challenge your thoughts and anxiety to start changing your beliefs and thoughts. You can do this by doing exercises to challenge the thoughts. Most people think that this will happen right away, but this takes a lot if time.  If you have had negative thoughts for a long period of time, it will definitely take time to change those habits.  I like to compare it to exercising.  If one needs to lose wight it doesn't happen over night, it takes time and commitment to change that individuals eating habits and also putting the exercise in place.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is such that by really working you can change the negative thoughts and beliefs.  It is telling yourself that you are worth it, you are good at what you do and that you will succeed.  It takes a lot of time and even emotional energy.   I always help my clients by having them do this, but also journaling what they are thinking. It helps to really see the negative beliefs, and help them pick apart the journal in sections and go through it. We as a team are able to go through a journal entry and work through the thoughts, and are able to see a positive aspect to what they may have been thinking negatively.   I also think that if you are not comfortable anymore with your partner, you need to find out if you think there is a future with your partner.  If not, it may be hard to step away, but taking a break may be efficient to see if you can live without this person in your life. I think going back and finding what made you first fall in love with your partner is important.  If you are able to achieve that again, then maybe there may be a chance, if not then it may be time to step away.
Answered on 10/25/2022

How can you deal with constant anxiety of germs and getting sick? I know it’s inevitable.

Over the past few years there has been a considerable increase in fears around illness. Much of this has been the result of the most recent pandemic. It was a discussion and concern that many people have shared around the world. As a result, many people were understandably cautious in efforts to reduce the spread of disease. Over time there has been a greater understanding of information, resources and precautions that have helped to reduce the severity of fear around this particular illness. Based upon this, having accurate information and resources can be helpful to reduce fears and increase one's comfortability about illnesses and exposure to illness or individuals that are ill. For example, there are many illnesses that are non communicable to others. In other situations, there may be precautions that can be taken to reduce the transmission of illness. This information can be helpful to appropriately recognize and align automatic thoughts or assumptions about illness and the impact it has on behaviors and reactions.   Generalized anxiety is a very common type of anxiety. It is an ongoing feeling of anxiety that can become severe. In addition to being common, it is also very treatable. Symptoms include constant worry. This anxiety can become ongoing and impact activities of daily living.  It would be important to know the timeframe that you have experienced fears or anxiety around illness. Also, the impact that it causes on your daily life. Over time these initial fears can become ongoing, and develop into automatic and irrational thoughts. These can begin to cause impact on one’s daily life. For example, some situations it may cause for individuals to be avoidant of others, or situations. This can lead to missing out on important events with family, friends and colleagues. In addition, it can reduce the ability to participate in daily activities or other meaningful interactions.   Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very helpful in managing the fears and anxiety around illness. It allows for the recognition of one’s thoughts, evaluation, and accurate reinterpretation of these thoughts. In addition to this it allows one to be aware of the feelings that these thoughts have on mood and coping. In other words, it assists with awareness of thoughts and interprets them for accuracy in order to obtain a healthier mood.  If the thoughts are not factual, it allows exploration of more rational or healthy ways to process information. A counselor can be helpful in learning and applying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also allows individuals to work through reducing the symptoms of anxiety when presented with the event or thoughts. Over time, this can lead to balanced thoughts in managing fears, but also help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety that can result from the fear. In addition, counseling and medication management can be effective to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Other strategies such as increased coping skills, and relaxation exercises can be helpful. I hope that this information is helpful to you. BetterHelp has licensed counselors that are able to assist you to identify the specifics of your experiences in order to develop a plan to best support your needs.
Answered on 10/25/2022

How do I overcome the fear of meeting new people, making friends and being able to keep them.

There are two parts to this issue, how do you go out and meet new people for a start. I would suggest you begin with small steps. What are the thoughts that arise for you when you think about going out to meet new people and are they realistic, it may help to write down what comes to mind, then look at these ideas objectively, as if you were a close friend of the person that has these thoughts and how you would help them to proceed.  Start from where you feel comfortable and push the boundary just a little, for example - is going outside your front door a challenge? Stand in the doorway face the fear of that to begin with, set an achievable goal. Are there ways to make this easier for you, is there someone that could facilitate this, is it easier at certain times of the day or under particular circumstances. It is important to feel safe in challenging yourself. Having self compassion is important when facing challenges of this kind, it can take a long time to overcome difficulties and reach goals that may seem small to others but a big step to us. The fact that you have sought help in making a change is the first step in your journey to reaching your potential. The version of you that you want, already exists, if you can give her space she will grow.   The second part is - what is behind this? Can you think of when this started and what the feelings are? Is the issue going out altogether or about meeting people? It may be there was a life event that triggered this or many changes or difficulties over a period of time. Bringing awareness to what is happening can be this first steps in understanding the reasons for the difficulties we have and understanding can facilitate recovery. Self understanding and self compassion can lead to a sustainable way of managing difficult feelings long term. With self compassion we can see that life can be challenging and offer ourselves kindness and not comparison to a perception of other peoples success. I would love the opportunity to help you explore this further.  June
Answered on 10/24/2022

I have anxious attachment style in all my relationships how can I start to fix it?

Hello!  This is an important topic to talk about and I want you to know that you are not alone in wondering how to manage an Anxious or Preoccupied attachment style.  This attachment style is usually characterized by a need to be validated, supported, and approved by their partner.  The partner's responsiveness to this process is important because without their responsiveness, you may not feel validated and constantly worry about the status of your relationship.  The lack of response or lack of a timely response may leave you feeling anxious and worried that your partner is not invested in the relationship in the same way as you are and/or that they do not love you as much as you love them.  This can cycle into a fear of abandonment and then can lead to being clingy, demanding, nit-picking of your partner's actions or behaviors, a lack of security, and even feeling desperate.  These "negative" behaviors are reinforced when your partner provides attention, responsiveness, and care in a way that you desire.  This is why the anxious attachment style is also referred to as a preoccupied attachment style.  This process can leave you feeling and acting like you are preoccupied with the relationship as you seek the treatment for the anxiety you feel by gauging and evaluating how your partner responds to you. You mentioned your love language includes being an affectionate person and I believe you are referring to the Five Love Languages and yours being the Love Language of Physical Touch.  You mentioned that your partner understands your love language, but you made reference to this when talking about your partner not responding to messages and/or FaceTime.  His response in this way would not be a direct contradiction to the Love Language of Physical Touch, but could be if your Love Language was Quality Time or Words of Affirmation.  If you have not recently taken the Five Love Languages Quiz, you might consider retaking this as your Love Language can change as you grow and mature.  I would encourage you to have your partner also take the quiz.  The point of understanding each other's love language is to understand how your partner needs to be loved and for your partner to understand how you need to be loved.  We will naturally give our partners love based on our primary or secondary love language instead of loving them based on their love language.  Do some work together on this and try to understand how you each need and desire to be loved.  This will help both of you to feel more secure in the relationship.   To address how to deal with your anxious attachment style, it's important for you to understand that this particular attachment style often is a result of low self-esteem.  This attachment style often begins in childhood when the person's parents will be supportive and attentive at times and then other times may not know how to connect with what the child wants or needs.  This misalignment or misattunement for the child will result in the child being confused about their relationships with their parents and can lead to a lack of trust in their parents.  This confusion can lead to high emotions, struggles with emotion regulation, attention-seeking behaviors, a push and pull of affection towards parents, and anxiety.  The child will learn to internalize their behavior and constantly worry about what they did wrong, could they do anything differently, will they lose the attention of their loved ones and so on.  They begin to believe that their wants, needs, and feelings are only important when it is convenient for their parent. When you get into a relationship as an adult, you tend to find yourself in a relationship that mirrors or mimics your childhood family dynamics.  You probably feel like there are conditions set in the relationship in order to get the love and attention you need and it continues to be very confusing for you.  Because you are an anxious attacher, you are probably very aware of what your partner needs and how to make him happy.  The key point to remember is that if he is not an anxious attacher, he may not be so aware of what you need.  Your constant seeking of reassurance can certainly lead to a negative response from your partner.  You need to work on your self-esteem and challenge the negative thoughts that might tell you that you are not good enough or that your partner won't or doesn't love you.  Learn to change that negative or irrational thought into a positive and/or rational thought.  I would encourage you to sit down and talk to your partner about this attachment style and your deep-rooted fears of abandonment and your insecurities.  Talk about triggers to insecurity and also what actions he can do to help you feel safe and secure.  Learn to use "I" statements to avoid a reaction of defensiveness.  "I feel insecure when you don't respond to my messages."  Talk about expectations and how each of you can realistically meet each others expectations.  Next, have him take an attachment style quiz. Ideally, you want a partner to have a Secure attachment style.  This type of person can help you feel more secure and can help you to regulate your emotions.  Any type of emotional outburst in anger or hurt can potentially lead your partner to react negatively toward you.  Take time to think about how you are actually feeling and identify that emotion to your partner in an appropriate and effective way.  "I know you don't understand why I am upset, but I feel (anxious, sad, insecure, hurt...) when you don't FaceTime me or answer my messages."  It is better to over-communicate than to over-react.   Lastly, get involved in therapy to work on yourself, deal with anything that comes up from childhood, and teach you skills to communicate in a way that fosters healthy bonds and relationships with others. I wish you the best of luck on your journey of self-discovery and positive change!
Answered on 10/23/2022

I’ve been struggling with overthinking for a while

Hi Aya, Over thinking is a human instinct that our defence mechanisms create for a safe outcome. Thinking about your past can bring back those emotions and feelings that could be from learned behaviours, what you learned off your parents or trauma which can still effect our behaviours, We can change these thoughts and feelings in to a more manageable effect and learn to accept what they are and how we can cope with them - without talking it through, people stay on a kind of wheel and go around and around and can't push forward with their lives. Getting therapy with this has already started with your acceptance of the past holding you back, so well done, taking little steps instead of leaps will make your therapy more achievable and won't put you under to much stress, taking little steps and building up your confidence will put you on your journey and you need to take time out to work on yourself. Only you have the answers - therapy is just to guide you and challenge you in your thoughts. Working with your therapist, you should come up with a plan to achieve this, once you gain more confidence with your emotions and feelings the easier it will become to accept what has happened and how they affected you . If you think these issues are affecting or impacting your life then seek help - what have you got to lose, you can only gain understanding and skills to improve your life. The therapist will give you a non judgmental space where you can talk to a person who would be solely there for your thoughts and feelings, which would be in total confidential settings. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you are already walking toward it. The therapist would just be by your side helping you to walk towards your goals and dreams. There may be little bumps along the way, but you won't get judged on those because that may be part of your learning curve, so after getting over those bumps we carry on helping you. Thanks, Saul
Answered on 10/22/2022

How do I stop the cycle of worry which leads to paralyzing anxiety and high blood pressure?

The cycle of anxiety and worry can be frustrating.  Worried thoughts and thinking the worst often stem from avoidance and the uncertainties caused by this avoidance.  Confronting your avoidance triggers can help alleviate the anxiety that you feel.  For example, if driving in a car seems to exacerbate your anxiety, it is not the driving which may be causing the anxiety, but the avoidant behaviors associated with this.  Identifying avoidance triggers and challenging these through gradual exposure can be a helpful strategy to alleviating anxious and worried thoughts.  If worried thoughts are related to relationship issues, the same principle can apply in identifying issues of avoidance, then gradually challenging this through one-on-one confrontation and open, direct communication.  In addition, anxious and worried thoughts are exacerbated by uncertainties, which are inherent in life.  By identifying and focusing on what you can control in any given situation, instead of what you can't, you can alleviate some of the anxiety and worry related to coping with uncertainties.  On a spiritual/existential level, anxiety and worry can often stem from mistrust in life, as well as mistrust in oneself.  It can be hard to recognize how life can be inherently striving to grow, to actualize one's potentials, to be developing in the best possible outcome.  It can be hard to feel hope and trust in yourself, in life itself, and to see a cumulative design with one's life's experiences.  Deepening this trust can come with time, the aging process, and deepening wisdom.  Taking some time to consider this perspective, how past painful and difficult experiences have enabled one to grow, develop purpose and meaning, can be a helpful exercise to gaining trust in life.  There is a saying that "a good physician cures illness with medicine, and a great physician cures illness with poison."  Ask yourself what are the ways you have changed poison into medicine in your life, used adversity to develop unique strengths and capacities?  Deepening your hope, patience, and trust that the best possible outcome will happen in your life, although maybe not the outcome logically that you expect and want, is crucial to feeling absolute freedom from worry.
Answered on 10/22/2022