Psychotherapy for Stress, Worry, and Anxiety
Anxious people go by many code names in our culture: perfectionists, overachievers, workaholics, Type A. Most of these labels come with some amount of grudging admiration, respect, or, at the very least, envy. As a result, we often get attached to our anxiety. It's what makes us successful, after all.
And so you might wonder what's a "normal" amount of anxiety and what's a problem. Everyone worries, right?
My answer is pretty simple. It's a problem if it's creating problems for you: getting in the way of your ability to sleep, take care of yourself, or show up in your relationships the way you'd like to.
Anxiety can sap our energy until there's barely anything left to complete the actual tasks we've been stressing about. And it can throw up massive roadblocks to achieving what we were really after in the first place: the ability to relax and enjoy the life we've worked so hard to create.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety comes in lots of shapes and sizes. If you're someone who's good at getting a lot done, you may not even realize that the constant tickertape in your head rattling off your to-do list on repeat is just as much a part of your anxiety as the thoughts that keep you up at night against your will.
Here are some common symptoms that we don't always think of as being linked to anxiety.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
- Jitteriness or nervous energy
- Shortness of breath
- Physical tension in certain parts of the body (often upper back, shoulders, and neck)
- Gastrointestinal issues (e.g., nausea)
- Exhaustion at the end of every day coupled with the belief that you still have to do 5 more things before going to sleep
Cognitive Symptoms of Anxiety
- Constant worrying that attaches itself to lots of different subjects (sometimes one at a time, sometimes all at once)
- Preoccupation with what other people think of you
- Mentally replaying conversations over and over
- Believing you've never accomplished as much as you should have in a given day, week, month, year, or decade
- The persistent nagging fear that you've missed something or gotten something wrong
- Comparing yourself unfavorably to your coworkers and college friends
- Inability to "turn your brain off" when you want to
- Obsessing over worst-case scenarios
- Decision paralysis
Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Shame about everything you haven't accomplished or didn't do well enough
- Insecurity about your relationships, job performance, or friendships
- Occasional collapses into social isolation and depression
- Feeling gripped by fear, panic, and shame whenever something goes wrong, no matter how big or small (and it rarely feels small)
- Inability to relax or have fun without the help of alcohol, drugs, or distractions
How does psychotherapy help with anxiety?
Our anxiety is selling us a story: that if only we do more, achieve more, become more efficient and accomplished and competent, we'll finally get to relax. And it can be very easy to buy into that story, to believe that the anxiety is simply a benign signpost pointing us toward our desired destination.
The problem is, eventually we notice that anxiety never has its fill. And it starts to wear us down. The need to accomplish more and be better and fix everything eventually begins to consume our lives.
That's when it's time to seek help.
When we're in the grip of our anxiety, the thought of slowing down can be terrifying. And yet it's absolutely necessary.
I know what you're thinking:
But . . . I don't know how to slow down!
If your anxiety has been running the show for years or decades, it's understandable that you're not sure what it would even mean for life to feel different. It can be enormously helpful to have someone to guide you through the process of easing into the present moment, releasing the beliefs that keep you trapped in the hamster wheel, and finding your way toward a more grounded sense of what you really need in order to feel like the best version of yourself.
This is a problem you don't have to solve on your own.
As your therapist, I'll help you explore the unique shape of your anxiety, including your fears about what might happen if you actually stopped worrying, planning, and second-guessing. Using psychodynamic, somatic, and mindfulness tools, I'll help you reconnect with the deeper needs and desires inside you that get overridden by anxiety's rigid marching orders. Accessing this deeper sense of self is a game changer for many people, rerouting that anxious energy into creating a life that will actually feel good.