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Anxiety: How it can be good for the system and four tips on how to handle it

In our current culture, whenever we mention the word anxiety, we use it to diagnose or as a preemptive word to describe a difficult situation. It is supposed to symbolize a state of arousal in the body that is uncomfortable and unlivable. We medicate from it and use directives in order to eradicate its existence. Is this split possibly creating a black-and-white view of a natural response to external stimuli?

In Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary's new book, Future Tense, she explores the notion that anxiety can be a force that can propel us to create change and be productive. This is not to dilute the genuine symptoms of anxiety disorder, which can harm the human mind and prevent people from being functional. The struggle we are having is that we link anxiety and anxiety disorder together without first looking at the symptoms.

What is anxiety? Anxiety is the feeling of unease and stress regarding a particular circumstance or external stimuli. It is different from an anxiety disorder which has components of several symptoms such as panic attacks and extreme fear of the unknown.

According to Dr. Tiwary, functional impairment is the main distinction between anxiety and anxiety disorder. It is important to be aware that anxiety is not distinctly fear-based. More research claims it is based on uncertainty for the future and the inability to predict outcomes. It is characterized as the polarity between hope and despair.

How can we shift our view of anxiety sooner, so we are not experiencing functional impairment when it arises?

  1. First is understanding the feeling and identifying the origin of the emotion. Am I anxious because I have a test coming up? Am I anxious because my partner is not communicating as much? Then we must understand that the emotion is understandable within the context of the unfolding story. Having self-compassion and making room for the feeling allows us more space to facilitate the skills to navigate the emotion.

  2. Cultivating skills that immerse you in the present moment. These can be person dependent, such as exercise, meditation, reading, walking, etc. The more we stay in the here and now, the more we are equipped to build the antibodies to withstand the discomfort of the uncertainty that anxiety brings.

  3. Keep a journal outlining the different ways these triggers come up for you. This can be identifying physical symptoms or external stimuli that you notice leaves a lasting effect.

  4. Identifying people in your support system that help reduce your anxiety is important. There are friends and family members who know just how to soothe us and validate our emotions. We must surround ourselves with people who understand how to enforce the parts of us that are coping with the unknown.

The most important thing to remember to avoid is removing the feeling altogether or "stamping it out," as Dr. Tiwary states. This affects everyone, but especially for parents of younger children who tend to want to "rescue" their kids from anything perceived as uncomfortable or dangerous to preserve their self-esteem. This creates an environment where developing minds do not possess the skills to combat forces outside their control because their exposure has been reduced, which in turn creates adults that struggle with adapting coping skills that assist them in navigating the world. Suppose we are not exposed to anxiety-inducing situations and given support on confronting them. In that case, our mechanisms become atrophied, and we are left with a constant fear of the unknown.

It is helpful to identify when the issue requires the assistance of others and when we can take agency over the struggle. In this way, people are equipped with tools, and their threshold for discomfort is heightened.

The more we combine growth-based concepts into our metaphoric arsenal, the more exciting and exotic the outside world can feel.

If we understand that no matter what life throws at us, we possess the skills to combat it and trust ourselves, then there is no telling what we can accomplish. It is understandable that anxiety is at an all-time high through today's cultural climate and in the aftermath of a pandemic. However, this time can be looked at as a reframing and rebirth of our new way of life. We can either survive with what we have or thrive with what we have been gifted, and it's entirely our choice.

Anxiety can affect almost anyone, and in fact, an estimated 40 million people in America suffer from it. So, you are not alone!

While that may not be the greatest news, it is also one of the most treatable conditions.

Infinite Therapeutic Services has a team of caring counselors and therapists trained in evidence-based and strength-based approaches to help you reduce and manage anxiety symptoms. Together we can help you find the solutions you need in a safe, comfortable, and confidential environment.

Counseling is an excellent resource for individuals seeking to find solutions to the feelings of overwhelm, frustration and chaos that anxiety causes. It is a space where it is safe to explore how anxiety affects you and what options you have to find more peace, energy and relief.

In therapy, we focus on identifying your strengths to help you create the change you need with long-lasting positive results. Through successful counseling interventions, individuals may experience peace, harmony, balance, and feeling re-energized.

At Infinite Therapeutic Services, our expert counselors and therapists use evidence-based and strength-based approaches to help you with your goals. Unlike many therapists and counseling practices, therapy should not revolve around venting sessions that last a lifetime.

We are results-driven, so we value when our clients achieve their goals. We also believe therapy should be accessible to everyone. Be sure to get the help you need. We are here to help.

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