Therapy is Not Easy

Therapy is Not Easy

Have you ever gone to therapy or considered seeking therapy?

I have. And I’m not ashamed to say that I currently do weekly talk therapy. In this post I have one overarching message to share from my experience with therapy and different therapists, and it is that therapy isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

Therapy isn’t easy in so many ways. The process of finding a therapist who specializes in the type of therapy you might benefit the most, let alone one in your price range, insurance coverage, and who practices nearby all present difficulties when tasked with finding a therapist. Luckily, Google is your friend when facing these difficulties.

You can research just about anything you need to know, from specialty, price, and location to patient reviews for therapists in your area. And trust me, you will want to do this research. It’s quite defeating committing yourself to a one-hour therapy session to find out that you and that therapist are not a good fit. That leads me to a second reason therapy is not easy.

After you find a therapist that fits your price, specialty, and location needs, you will want to meet the therapist in person and have one or several sessions with them to determine whether or not they are a good fit for what you are seeking from therapy. Several things you want to feel with a therapist are comfort, lack of judgment, openness, acceptance, and trust. You want to feel like you can build a trusting relationship in which you can be open and honest and also comfortable to share everything with the therapist who is trying to help you.

If you’ve tried therapy before or are in a situation now where you feel like you cannot be fully honest with your therapist, or if you feel judgment from them, I urge you to not give up on the idea of therapy as a practice that can help you. Just because the fit isn’t right doesn’t mean that therapy with the right therapist won’t help you. You might, however, need to evaluate your current situation and try seeking out a different therapist and potentially a different type of therapy.

This happened to me the first time I sought therapy. I had about five or ten sessions with a therapist where, in our sessions, we would talk about things that had happened and relationships in my childhood and adolescence that could have affected the way I feel and act currently. Doing so was extremely difficult and emotional for me. In my life, I’ve buried many things in my past as a coping mechanism, and uncovering those things brought a ton of emotional turmoil into my present and affected me long after the therapy sessions were over. After this experience I figured that therapy just wasn’t for me. It was too painful. I didn’t like revisiting the things that I had buried for a reason.

I got a bit older and my anxiety got worse. I had a full blown panic attack at 22 years old and lived in fear of another panic attack for two years after that. I had low mood and impulsivity but also was functioning fairly well in my life so I thought it was something I could try to deal with on my own.

Then I found myself one day staring into the train tracks, thinking of how easy it would be to just fall in, and I knew I needed help. I sought therapy from my school’s mental health center, since I didn’t know what else to do. I needed someone else to understand how desperate I was for help, and I was too scared to open up to anyone close to me about it.

This type of therapy was different. I saw the therapist for a total of ten sessions (since this was the free allowed amount) and we never spent a single session digging into my past. We talked about my past and childhood in small doses but we focused on my mood and problems in the present, and how I could deal with what I was facing in the present. I felt more comfortable engaging in these types of sessions and sometimes came away feeling sad, but also felt empowered and like I could regain control of my life.

After I finished that stint of schooling and moved across the country I figured it would be beneficial for me to continue some type of therapy, so that I could avoid falling into the super low mood and scaring myself. This is when I discovered ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

ACT is a type of therapy that focuses on your present self, and how you can make changes in your present to help yourself to feel better. Instead of emphasizing control of your thoughts and feelings, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy does, ACT encourages you to accept and notice your thoughts and feelings. It helps you to develop compassion for yourself for having these thoughts and feelings, but also helps you to not linger or ruminate on them.

ACT therapy in combination with an open, comforting, trusting therapist has provided the right combination for me in what I am seeking from a therapy experience. However, therapy still isn’t easy.

The third thing that isn’t easy about therapy is… doing the actual therapy. Pretty intuitive but sitting with a stranger, talking about your thoughts and emotions, your childhood, your relationships with others, and your life in a nutshell is NOT easy! Revisiting past events and situations, which were potentially traumatic is not easy. Accepting impartial commentary and advice on coping with these events is not easy. And making changes in your daily life as suggested during therapy is not easy.

All of these things make therapy not easy. But the more important message here is that while therapy might not be easy, it is worth it.

For me, it’s really difficult to put a price tag on my mental health. Without my mental health I wouldn’t have my livelihood, and I might not have my life. I have prioritized therapy as an expense over other things in my life. I have worked to find a therapist that is a good fit for me, and one that I can trust. And I am now in a position where if I work at it I can improve my state of being.

Therapy is worth it in more ways than I could count or explain in a blog post. Therapy can restore your hope that you can have a happy life. Therapy can help you to find the things that mental illness or burnout or exhaustion might have robbed you from, like your confidence, self-esteem, and motivation. It can empower and give you the tools to help yourself when you need it.

So overall, if you’re reading this and you’re considering trying therapy, I strongly encourage you to try it! If you’re in therapy and not happy about it then I strongly encourage you to try a different therapist or a different type of therapy. Most importantly I encourage you to not give up. You’re a strong person for seeking help for yourself. And while therapy might be tough at times, just remember how worthwhile it will be.

Driving in a Car with Anxiety

Driving in a Car with Anxiety

The other night I was telling my therapist how I was dreading going to a friend’s party. I wanted to go to the party. I wanted to show up for my friend. But, I also had a lot of reasons not to. There would be many people there. There would be many people there that I didn’t know. What it all boiled down to, was me not wanting to go to a friend’s event because of my social anxiety.

Then, my therapist said something that really resonated with me. The way I’ve been living my life, is with my anxiety sitting in the drivers seat. Not only has my anxiety metaphorically been sitting in the driver’s seat but it has also been driving me around and controlling everything I do. My anxiety has been controlling my thoughts, my decisions, my life, and ultimately me. My anxiety had become the largest factor in deciding whether or not I would do something, and whether or not I would spend time with a close friend.

My anxiety was controlling me and doing a great job at it!

However, my therapist next encouraged me that we could turn this around. I wasn’t stuck in this state, and I wouldn’t have to live my life, passenger to my anxiety, forever. She vowed we could work until I was the one sitting in the drivers seat, my anxiety the passenger, and they’d pay for it!

There was some comedic relief envisioning me taking control of the car, getting into the drivers seat, making my anxiety be a passenger, and making them pay for the ride. However, the intention is solid, and my therapist was right.

Anxiety, like stress, might not be something we can overcome. It is not something we can be cured of. But it is something that can be compartmentalized and towards which our perspectives can shift.

It is possible for us to learn that we can control our anxiety rather than let it control us.

And I want to share this with anyone living with anxiety. It feels like a true monster at times. But with practice and dedication to treatments like therapy, anxiety becomes a monster that can be calmed, tamed, and ultimately put in the passengers seat.

Anxiety, like stress, might be a natural part of life, and it can be helpful to our human experience at times. However, the trick to dealing with anxiety is in retaining our position in the driver’s seat and anxiety’s place in the passenger seat. That way we retain control of our lives and control of our anxiety. And ultimately can live the way we want to. Not the way our anxiety wants us to.

How to be Your Own Advocate When it Comes to Stress

When it comes to Stress, you MUST be your own advocate! I cannot stress this enough. It’s one thing to have to manage our stress, and it is another to practice control over the stress in our lives that can be controlled.

Now, when I talk about the stress that can be controlled, I’m talking about the stress we experience from various commitments we make that might cause more strain than joy. If they are commitments we plan willingly, they are not usually sources of stress, but if there is some kind of pressure involved in the commitment, then this situation can be a source of stress as well.

Either way, you are the only person who truly understands your current, active level of stress. You are the only person who understands what exactly is on your plate at any moment, day or week, and you are the only person who can communicate your current level of stress.

Therefore, you are in the position to be the BEST advocate for yourself when it comes to stress, your commitments, and events in your life that you can control. So, how do you practice being your own advocate when it comes to stress? There are many ways, and I’ll talk about some here:

1. Understand your boundaries

Understanding your boundaries is a vital way to advocate for yourself when it comes to your stress and overall well being. Take stock of what is on your plate, and what you are comfortable with having on your plate at any given time. Understand what types of things bring you joy, and more joy than stress.

2. Communicate your boundaries

Once you understand your boundaries you can practice communicating them clearly and effectively. You don’t necessarily need to make your close family and friends aware of your boundaries, or be proactive about asserting your boundaries. Rather, practice saying no to things or commitments that will cause you more stress than joy. Speak calmly and slowly. Be confident! You are entitled to your boundaries.

3. Understand that other people, too, have boundaries

Other people have boundaries when it comes to stress. One of the best ways of advocating for yourself when it comes to stress is by showing that you respect other peoples’ boundaries when it comes to stress. Acknowledging other peoples’ boundaries will show them that you care about their well-being, and hopefully they will treat you the same way in return.

4. Ask for help when you need it

Asking for help is difficult. It is something I struggle with, but have been practicing recently at work. Some people see the idea of asking for help as a sign of weakness, and this might keep them from asking for help when they really need it. But it is a fact of life that you’re going to need help at times. You can be brave and go it alone, or you can be brave and seek help in close friends, mentors at work, or family when you need it. Trust that the people you ask for help will say no or be honest if they genuinely think they cannot help you in the way you are seeking.

Advocating for yourself when it comes to stress is extremely important. You cannot expect someone else to do it for you, and if you do lean on someone else to do it for you this isn’t necessarily 100% honest or sustainable. You deserve a life with only the stress you choose to take on. There is stress that you can control, and advocating for yourself is a great way of exhibiting control over that stress.

Tips for Managing Overwhelming Anxiety

todolist postI woke up this past Monday extremely anxious. Anxious about going to work, anxious about having enough time to finish all of the tasks I needed to finish at work, anxious that the tasks not only wouldn’t get accomplished but that they wouldn’t get accomplished well. I woke up anxious also about non-work stuff. Over the weekend I realized that I am leaving for Europe in less than two weeks and have soo much to do before then. Packing, laundry, planning, double-checking that I have everything I need for the trip.

Other life tasks piled on this list as I thought about how I still need to schedule the colonoscopy and wisdom tooth-removal surgery I’ve been putting off for months. I also got summoned for jury duty the day after I return from Europe and need to figure that out. And something that was bogging me not only in terms of anxiety but making me feel weird emotionally was that I needed to figure out a pet-sitting situation for my newly adopted dog while I am gone. I had booked this trip long before I adopted her, and I adopted her with the understanding that the guy I was seeing at the time would take care of her while I’m gone. Well that relationship didn’t work out and thus I lost my hopeful pet-sitter.

All in all, my brain felt like it was going to EXPLODE with the amount of things I needed to accomplish.

With this anxiety my sleep, too, has suffered. I’m not a good sleeper, and I never have been. But in times where I’m particularly anxious I have restless sleep or very vivid, haunting dreams that leave me waking up exhausted rather than rested.

Now that it’s Saturday, and I’ve worked through the week and worked through the anxiety, I want to share some tips that got me to the less anxious place that I am currently at now.

1. Write a daily to-do list

When the source of your anxiety is having what seems like a surmountable amount of things to do on your mind, one of the best things you can do is get those thoughts out of your mind and on to paper. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and write down everything you need to accomplish this week, or everything you need to accomplish in the future that is currently in your mind. Write one thing per line. Next, prioritize these items in order of what needs to be accomplished sooner to what can be accomplished later. If throughout the day you think of more things that are not on this list, add them to the list. As you accomplish things on your list, cross them off. Crossing items off a to-do list literally releases serotonin (a feel-good hormone) and your brain will elicit a feeling of relief.

2. Adjust your Mindset

Remember, life happens one day at a time. You can only attend to one task at a time, and you can only be expected to accomplish one thing at a time (unless you’re multi-tasking, which I don’t really recommend you do). Adjust your perspective and remind yourself to take things one day at a time.

3. Move your Body

Moving your body will help to relax your mind. I’m usually ok at getting enough movement in my day, but this week I went on two walks during my workday as opposed to the usual one walk I schedule in my day. Moving your body increases blood flow and oxygen distribution throughout your body and to your brain, and will help you to feel less anxious. Moving could also help you to pass off anxious energy. High intensity workouts like running or boxing allow you to transfer your anxious feelings through your movements, and also clear your mind. Think of your anxiety like energy that can be transferred, and punch (a punching bag!) or run it away.

Although there are more tips for dealing with anxiety, in this post I wanted to focus on those that helped me this past week, and that can help specifically for the type of anxiety where you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list.

I hope these tips can be useful for you! And feel free to comment or email me if you have any questions:)

 

An Introduction to Stress Well

An Introduction to Stress Well

All of us have dealt with stress at some point in our lives, so we might as well learn how to experience that stress in a healthy way. People, books, and websites tout ways to reduce stress, avoid stress, or compartmentalize and ignore it. But no matter which of these methods you attempt, avoiding stress is not the solution. I believe that a more effective way to cope with stress is to find ways to examine, evaluate, and manage stress well, rather than avoid it.

Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives, if not daily or often. Daily stressors are caused by various factors like concerns about money, difficulty with a task at work or school, trouble communicating with a family member or friend, or generalized worry about the future. Larger stressful events like losing a job, moving, losing a spouse or family member, or dealing with a serious health problem can cause more acute stress responses, and might potentially confound the amount of stress experienced in your daily life. The point is, in different shapes, sizes, and intensities, everyone has encountered stress. You are not alone in your experience of stress, and by sharing both what I’ve learned through classes and research about stress, as well as the ways that I’ve coped with stress personally, I hope to help you feel less alone in this journey.

Since the beginning of time stress has acted as a survival mechanism to nearly every living thing. If you think back to the hunter-gatherer time of human existence, a stress response is what would result from a stimulus, and a potentially dangerous stimulus, and would motivate a human to react in a way to escape that danger.  Acute stress has helped organisms to survive imminent dangers while daily stress has motivated organisms to engage in activities necessary to survival, like acquiring food, water, and shelter, or engaging in activities that will enhance their survival, like going to work every day. As a motivator or driver, stress has served a role in organic and human existence since the beginning of time, and it is not going away. It cannot be avoided and it cannot be eliminated from the body. We might as well learn how to deal with it.

Finally, stress is not always bad, and it doesn’t always signal danger. According to the Yerkes-Dodson law, established in 1908, there is an inverted U-curve relationship between pressure (or arousal) and performance. This law states that as physiological arousal increases, so does performance, but only up until a certain point. When pressure reaches a certain point and becomes too high, performance will start to decrease.  By this law, a small amount of stress or pressure might act as a motivator and is correlated with increased performance, but only up to a certain point of stress, after which it might become harmful to a person mentally, physically, and emotionally.  The more we understand about stress in general, in addition to our unique experiences of stress, the better we can cope with it.

The fact that stress can reach a point in which it becomes harmful to human health is the reason we have been seeking ways to manage and cope with it. Facing stress head-on might be the best way to manage it both in the moment and in the long run. However, there are no quick fixes. From my experience, the practice of facing stress head-on is both terrifying and exhilarating, but you will be stronger emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually, because of it. I hope from visiting this site, of anything you gain a new perspective on managing stress, and learn that stress is not always the enemy. If you can work to understand your stress, and work with it rather than against it, you can learn to stress well.

How I Trained My Mind to Cope with Panic Attacks

I was standing, facing my boyfriend, in the 34th street subway station in New York City. The fluorescent lights shone above my head and subway cars darted left and right on the tracks around me. It was summer in New York City, so it was humid, sticky, and stuffy. Hundreds of people were squished into the narrow halls of the subway station waiting eagerly for the next train.

 

Out of nowhere, I was struck with a hot flash, and my vision shifted, showing my world off-kilter. I broke out in a raging sweat and my vision wasn’t correcting itself. My knees shook and I couldn’t hold my own weight anymore. I fell to the ground as my heart beat with an intensity so frightful I was convinced I was dying. So convinced that I was dying, I muttered a goodbye to my boyfriend, as he cradled me in his arms on the filthy wooden bench to wait out whatever was happening to me. I looked at him desperately and told him to call 911 because I knew I needed help.

 

Contrary to my belief, this was not a heart attack. It wasn’t until several weeks later that I learned what I had suffered was in fact a panic attack.

 

But, how could I have a panic attack if I wasn’t panicked, I wondered. In that moment, preceding the episode, I wasn’t nervous or worried, or feeling particularly scared about anything. I had always thought you needed to be in a state of stress or anxiety in order to have a panic attack…

 

I was wrong.

 

This panic attack came out of nowhere and it came with a vengeance. It attacked so strongly and screamed at me so loudly that I was instantly awoken to the fact that my anxiety had gotten out of my control. Having just started graduate school and going through a break up with whom I thought was my forever love, I was understandably distraught but I thought I had been doing a good job of keeping my pot of anxiety from boiling over.

 

This panic attack was literally a wake up call. I knew I needed to start taking control of my underlying anxiety, because ignoring it only worked as a coping mechanism for so long.

 

Panic attacks are terrifying, and unfortunately they seem to be quite common. Although there is no cure or quick-fix solution to lessening the symptoms or reducing the occurrence of panic attacks, there are techniques that can help.

 

In facing my panic attacks and anxiety in general I think the best thing I ever did for myself was seeking therapy. I am such a believer in therapy that I now recommend it to any and everyone. You don’t even need to have a diagnosis to benefit from a third party professional helping you out with your problems.

I resisted the idea of seeing a therapist since I was 16. I think it’s because I wanted to be able to handle my problems on my own, and to prove my own strength in a way. Seeking therapy, to me, was surrendering to the fact that I needed help I couldn’t provide myself. But I’m so glad I did. And I think if you find the right therapist that practices the kind of therapy that is right for you, it will provide you some relief and help you to navigate this world with more ease.

 

This article isn’t about therapy, however. It’s about shorter-term techniques I enacted to help me deal with panic attacks in the moment to buy myself some time before I could see a therapist.

 

Since I’ve faced panic attacks head on, and have grown successful in fending them off and calming my body naturally, I want to share my experience.

 

I have dabbled in self-experimentation and playing detective to my own or others’ medical problems from a young age. When I was younger, my ER doctor father would consult me with challenging medical cases that needed a creative solution and I would ponder over them for weeks. I was obsessed with the scientific method, and this likely inspired my constant self-experimentation and academic pursuit of Epidemiology.

 

Growing up, whenever I was faced with an ailment, it was a new challenge for me to solve. For example, in college I used to suffer horrible, debilitating migraines with auras. Yet, after testing out dietary modifications and discovering that vegetarianism reduced my migraines, I haven’t had a migraine since.

 

Similarly, when I had my first panic attack at 22 years old, opposed to the idea of daily anxiety medication (another way of acknowledging that maybe I had a condition or needed help I couldn’t give myself), I instead decided to try different mental techniques at the onset of a panic attack, or for occurrences of heightened anxiety. With dedication to these techniques, I have now been panic attack-free for 4 years.

 

As I’m not a medical doctor or a therapist, I can in no way properly endorse the techniques I’ve tried, but they’ve worked for me in combatting my anxiety and panic attacks and so if you are willing to try something different, then my advice is here.

 

Since I had my first panic attack in a NYC subway station, I understandably was scared to revisit that setting where I could be susceptible to it happening again. Instead, I thought that if I could slowly get myself to be ok and not nervous in a subway station, that I would win against anxiety. I took it on as a challenge and actually started to spend more time in subway stations. I’d sit on a bench and take the time to examine myself internally. How was my breathing? How was my heart rate? What was I thinking about? How was I feeling? Was I nervous? If so, what’s triggering me to be nervous?

 

Immersing myself in the setting that had previously brought on a panic attack was risky. But I kept telling myself that a panic attack would not kill me, and I needed to understand why it happened. Evaluating my body and my mind while in the subway helped me to understand the way I was feeling in this environment. I understood my triggers, which was being in a cramped space and feeling claustrophobic and stuck. I also came to understand that I was over stimulated by the combination of people, lights and sounds.

 

As I came to learn what was making me anxious, I felt that I had a better grasp on the anxiety, and that it was something that could be managed. It was like the anxiety literally shrunk from a large black cloud to something that could fit in the palm of my hand. It was a manageable size and I was bigger and stronger in comparison to it.

 

After taking the time to learn and understand my nervous triggers, instead of avoiding these triggers, which would seem intuitive, I actually sought to immerse myself in them. I think this practice is somewhat akin to immersion therapy, but I felt stronger facing my fears head-on rather than avoiding them, and I felt like they had less power over me and like I was the one in control.

 

Granted, facing the sources of my nervousness was not easy. I would still suffer from pre-panic attack symptoms while riding the subway quite often. I realized I needed to go a step further than just understanding my symptoms.

 

When symptoms of anxiety and pre-panic attack, like feelings of hot flashes, band-like headaches around my head, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and flustered thoughts would set in, I decided I had to take myself somewhere else. Not physically, but mentally.

 

I would close my eyes, and imagine myself on a wide, expansive, airy beach with soft warm sand and crystal blue waters. The ability to create this other world and imagine myself in it provided me with so much relief. I could transport from the bright, loud, crowded, sticky subway car to a place where I could catch my breath.

 

Seeing this place in my mind allowed my body to follow suit and relax. My chest would open up so I could breath again, my heart rate would slow down, and my muscles would unclench. I was offered relief although physically in a place that caused me stress.

 

Several months later, I was watching a war movie in a large dark theater, where the loud banging, flashing lights, and commotion of the movie simulated a situation similar to the subway station. I felt a band wrapping around my head and just thought it was some kind of headache coming on until my world tilted and I started hyperventilating. It all happened so fast, and again, I wasn’t actually nervous about anything. The movie itself got my heart pounding, but I had never been affected by a movie like that previously.

 

I gathered the strength to remove myself from the theater and sit on a bench to collect myself. Luckily a friend was there to help me as I felt absolutely out of it. It felt like I had been hit in the head by a baseball bat and I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t. Although the episode only lasted about 20 minutes I was exhausted for the rest of the night. It felt like I had just ran a marathon and weathered a storm so intense that I could sleep for days.

 

This experience gave me further insight to my anxiety. It helped me to figure out that I get nervous in cramped spaces, not just subway stations. It helped me to figure out that I get triggered by bright lights, flashing, and loud noises, and not just those in the subway station. Although painful, the experience didn’t kill me and it provided me more information to understand my anxiety and the source of these episodes.

 

Ultimately, by continuing to immerse myself (in doses) in the places that caused me stress, I was able to face that stress head on and, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I conquered it, but I did decrease it to a manageable level. And that was enough. It was enough to get me through the moment and the collections of moments that turned into days, until I could seek the professional help I needed.

 

Overall, I would summarize my techniques for managing panic attacks in the following ways:

 

1.     In the moment, sit or lie down. Look around you for:

·      5 things you can see

·      4 things you can touch

·      3 things you can hear

·      2 things you can smell

·      1 thing you can taste

 

This technique is called grounding, and it will help you to feel more in control of your environment. This is a good technique to help you in the moment, before you start to understand what triggers your panic attacks.

 

2.     Try visualizing a safer space

·      This technique is also a more in-the-moment technique, in which you close your eyes and imagine yourself in a space that doesn’t cause you anxiety, space in which you feel comfortable and in control. For me, that space is an open, expansive place. Potentially a clear beach or a large field of dewy grass. Let your mind take you to that place. Once you feel like you are actually in that place, your mind will feel more relieved and you will notice that your body will relax too.

3.     Be aware of your anxiety.

·      Be a student to your anxiety and the environment you are in when you feel extreme nervousness or a panic attack coming on. Observe and take note of what situations might cause increased anxiety. What exactly is making you anxious, or what in your environment is causing you to feel certain ways? Try recording these observations in a notebook.

 

4.     Understand your anxiety.

·      Once you’ve become awake and aware of your anxiety, you can take steps towards understanding it. Try to address questions like why are these situations making you nervous or anxious? Answering a question like this might be rather difficult… and honestly you might not be able to understand it on your own. This is a place in the process where a therapist might be able to help you in finding relief from, or avoiding, panic attacks. Also ask yourself about the feelings accompanying or preceding the anxiety.

5.     Sit with your anxiety.

·      Once you are aware of your triggers and understand why you are triggered to feel anxious, try sitting with your anxiety. For me, this is incredibly painful. But that pain only lasts about 90 seconds, and once you’ve made it through, you’ll feel somewhat invincible. For me, it felt freeing. Knowing that I could sit with my anxiety and it wouldn’t destroy or kill me helped me to feel like I could mange it.

6.     Embrace or Immerse yourself in you anxiety.

·       This technique doesn’t work for everyone. Like I explained earlier, I personally saw my anxiety as a challenge to be addressed. Not everyone will have this mindset or see the need to approach their anxiety in this way, and that’s totally fine! By embracing your anxiety I mean going back to those situations that provoked panic, sitting with the anxiety, and fending it off. Doing so has helped me to re-frame my anxiety as something that I can control, rather than something that controls me, and as something that I have the power over. Feeling so provides relief and confidence that you can deal with more situations where you feel anxious.

7.     See a therapist.

·       While there are techniques to deal with anxiety, seeing a therapist is what has provided me the most long-term relief with underlying anxiety. I have seen therapists that I don’t like, however, so it is important to do some research on therapists in your insurance network before choosing one or several to test out. Do some research to find therapists that specialize in the type of treatment you are seeking. There are many types of therapy, and some are better suited to different issues. In the past, I’ve tried Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and the process of diving into my childhood didn’t provide relief for my daily anxiety. It made it worse, actually. More recently, I’ve been seeing a therapist who practices Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is like a mindfulness-based approach to therapy that has helped me to live more easily and address my problems and feelings in the moment. It’s helped me tremendously over the past year or so and it’s the first time in my life that I’ve felt positively about my future. Finding a therapist that works for you can be an arduous process. You cannot benefit from a therapy if you don’t feel comfortable or like you can trust your therapist. You are, after all, putting in yourself in a very vulnerable situation, but one that will provide you so much relief through the process.

 

Finally, I want to say that there is always hope. There is always hope for controlling your anxiety, and even if you are in a situation where you feel like you’ve surrendered to it, you can recover from it. I know that first-hand. It’s not easy helping yourself, or seeking the help you might need. If you don’t have the strength now, that is OK. As humans, we are not perfect. Some days are dark but without the dark days we don’t appreciate the light ones. Although anxiety might feel like constant dark days, there will be a light one or a light moment where you will discover that you are stronger than your anxiety.