Everyone experiences anxiety, as anxiety is a normal and vital part of life: it helps you survive, get necessary tasks done, and prepares you for worst-case scenarios. Anxiety is the built-in alarm system that helps us protect ourselves or motivates us to perform well with certain tasks—it signals our amygdala to have us respond to threats by fighting, fleeing, freezing, or fawning.
These all sound useful, but after a certain point, you might feel like your anxiety is spiraling. This sometimes leads to anxiety and/or panic attacks. At high levels of anxiety, our ability to perform well decreases, or we get stuck in our fear responses and don’t know how to move forward. Symptoms of anxiety might even get in the way of our day-to-day lives, crippling us from even going to work because our worries or fears are so intense.
Here are five symptoms to help you identify when you’re feeling anxious:
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Feeling constantly worried or panicked, and having difficulty controlling the worry or panic
- Insomnia/sleep disturbances
- Having muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained pains
- Feeling tired and irritable
If you’re especially located in New York City, your life can feel fast-paced and overwhelming. You may have normalized your anxiety so much that you don’t even realize you’re anxious anymore because it’s so normal for everyone to constantly be on the move. But chronic anxiety can lead to burnout or even physical health issues. Your body can suffer the physical consequences of not treating your anxiety.
Anxiety as a Part of PTSD and/or Depression
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety have a lot of overlap with each other. Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between these diagnoses since they look similar. People who have experienced trauma can feel hypervigilant, being very aware of their surroundings and worried about their uncertain future. Sometimes PTSD symptoms, such as having nightmares, flashbacks, and even physical sensations (such as muscle tension or discomfort) coincide with anxiety symptoms.
I often tell my clients that Anxiety and Depression are cousins, and the only difference is what they do to one’s energy levels: anxiety amps people up, causing someone to feel restless, and depression causes energy levels to drop, often feeling tired or fatigued. Anxiety and depression often occur when one’s reality does not match or is far from, their expectations or ideal future. People who experience depression often cannot imagine a future and feel a lot of hopelessness. Either way, both anxiety, and depression can cause tiredness, low sleep quality, unexplained pains in your body, and irritability. You can feel restless and exhausted at the same time. The result causes a vicious cycle of restlessness, exhaustion, and back to restlessness.
How to Manage Your Anxiety
Exercises to Ground Your Anxiety
We need to be better aware of when our anxiety symptoms appear and when our anxiety spirals. Ironically, the more we are aware, the more we have control over our anxiety. I recommend slowing down, taking some time to get in touch with yourself and check in with your body. I teach my clients some grounding techniques—especially when they enter panic attacks—such as 5-4-3-2-1. 5-4-3-2-1 helps you get in touch with your five senses, and you use each of them to engage them as soon as possible: it can be 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Taking a few deep breaths can help as well, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Taking deep breaths awakens the nervous system (parasympathetic) which helps us feel calmer and more relaxed.
Mindfulness and meditation practices can also help you be in the present moment. The more present we are, the less anxious we tend to feel. We tend to feel anxious when we worry about the future. Practice gratitude by appreciating the present moment. This can be paying attention to the cool breeze on a sunny day or feeling your feet on the smooth ground beneath you. Practicing gratitude is not to negate or avoid your anxiety. But rather acknowledge and accept it, and move through the motions of anxiety as you focus on the here and now.
Use Your Support to Calm Anxiety
Have a strong, healthy social support system of those who you can rely on during difficult times. It may be difficult to open up to people who you don’t think will understand you, but find a few supportive loved ones who you can be vulnerable with. The more you tell them about your struggles, the more they will have a better idea of how to support you. For example, you can have your loved ones practice mindfulness together. Spending time with supportive friends and family members can also help you stay present and grateful for the support you’re receiving.
Seek out a Professional to Treat Your Anxiety
Finally, seeking therapy is also a great way to seek help with managing your anxiety. Our therapists will listen to your struggles, guide you through mindfulness techniques for you to apply throughout your day, and help you work through reframing and challenging your unhelpful thoughts. They will also hold you accountable for you to commit to actions and behaviors that work toward lessening your anxiety.
Anxiety is manageable as long as you have the right support systems and you’re committed to accepting and working through it. Anxiety can feel like it is taking over your life, but you are in control of it more than you think. It’s natural to get worried or scared about the uncertainties in life, but that’s also a part of life that we must accept, get used to, and even embrace. We have more choice and freedom than we think within our current limitations in life.
Start Therapy for your Anxiety in New York Today
Don’t go at anxiety alone, seek out one of our competent therapists by booking an appointment today. Discover your agency, find ways to cope with your anxiety symptoms, and empower yourself to take charge of your life.
Other Services at Yellow Chair Collective
Our caring therapists at our Los Angeles and New York City-based counseling center are skilled in many areas. They work with couples, teens, and individuals. Further, they address issues such as postpartum therapy and trauma and PTSD. Additionally, they provide highly sensitive people treatment, burnout treatment, EMDR, and culturally sensitive therapy. All of these services can be utilized in-person or online anywhere in California or New York.