Anxiety is a complicated series of emotions that manifest in physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms. We all feel anxious and worried from time to time. Anxiety is normal and was designed by evolution to keep us aware and consider consequences/outcomes. Really, it boils down to how frequent, intense and out of proportion the feelings of anxiety are related to a specific event. If you’re unsure, going to therapy is the best way to get a professional take on what might be happening. You can learn effective coping skills and evidence based practices to help alleviate daily stress. In therapy, we work on unconditional acceptance of ourselves, others and the world around us. We learn that we have quite a lot of control over our anxieties. Part of that process is understanding the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves and others.
It can be tough asking for help even without having anxiety! But for those who experience daily anxiety, tack on fatigue, worry and apprehension about asking for help. There is still a lot of stigma around caring for our wellness and mental health. Here in the U.S., hard work, little sleep and ‘well-roundedness’ are highly valued. Anything that gets in the way of achieving those goals is considered weakness and a personal fault, making it even more difficult to ask for help.
But reaching out is super important. When anxiety takes over, it is very hard to get out of your own head and negative self-talk. This makes it harder to objectively see what is happening and inhibits examining the anxiety. Asking for help can provide you with multiple alternatives and points of view and, of course, professional support.
The most accessible way to get extra support actually comes from you by learning to say ‘no’ to others and yourself. Saying no to others can sometimes be easier than saying no to yourself. The “shoulds” we put on ourselves- I should be more productive today, I should take on this extra project at work and so on- contributes to over-exertion. Saying ‘no’, although can sometimes be uncomfortable and out of character, is a wonderful, free, inadvertent way to alleviate anxiety. Not like you? Try it for a week and see if it makes a difference!