Managing Anxiety

For those who have struggled with anxiety, you know how useless it to command yourself to relax. To have someone else tell you to relax can be even worse! People try all sorts of techniques to cope with anxiety; deep breathing, imagining a relaxing scene, carrying a talisman, or bringing a safety person with them to stressful situations. While many people have learned to live with their anxiety with these accommodations, their sensitivity to anxiety has actually increased! Anxiety sensitivity refers to a person’s fear of anxiety-related symptoms. The hope for successful treatment is for the client to experience decreased anxiety sensitivity.

Sally Winston, an anxiety expert and one of my teachers says, “anxiety itself is neither helpful nor unhelpful, it’s our response to anxiety that is either helpful or unhelpful.” Engaging the thoughts connected to anxiety symptoms is key in understanding how anxiety works and is a central place for my treatment. All too often, I find that anxiety sufferers are not only afraid to feel anxiety symptoms, they are extremely hard on themselves for struggling in the first place.  They have developed a condemning inner critic who judges them harshly. One of the most gratifying things I am privileged to see in my work is the quieting of that condemning voice.

For more on my thoughts about anxiety, see my blogs on anxiety including my  “Will Ferrell” blog.

Suggested reading:

Sally Winston is quoted in the cover article of the December 5th issue of Time Magazine.

Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program for Beating the Panic Trick by David Carbonell

The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry and Anxiety Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, by Chad LeJeune

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