The Relationship Expert
Licensed Psychologist in Arroyo Grande & Los Osos
All of us deal with anxiety at some level. We lead lives filled with demands that can cause stress and pull us in multiple directions. However for many, it can become overwhelming. Unwanted thoughts constantly resurface while feelings of uncertainty, worry, and restlessness interfere with daily life.
Possible Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety can present itself in several ways. Here are just a few examples:
Some people live in a state of perpetual worry with an ever-present sense of fear about possible future events. Alternatively, anxiety can manifest itself as a sense of agitation, requiring super-human doses of will power to control flashes of irritability or even anger.
It is not uncommon for physical symptoms to arise that have the earmarks of a panic attack: such as shortness of breath, restlessness, fatigue, or heart palpitations. Fatigue and difficulty sleeping is also common.
- Cognitive (Mental)
Past negative experiences or worries about the future start to take center stage in daily thought processes. Unwanted images flash to mind, causing distress. For some, different thoughts come in a torrent, too fast and powerful to control. Traumatic events can leave long-term wounds, causing stress for years to come.
Anxiety disorders are treatable, especially by professionals with training in diagnosis and treatment. Some clients experience dramatic improvement by meeting with me as well as with a psychiatrist to determine a medication that is right for them.
With the tools clients gain during counseling, they can begin to prevent these destructive forces from running roughshod over their lives.
When a client meets with me for the first time, I ask questions about family, medical history and life changes. The client gains a fuller understanding of the situations and thoughts that lead to feelings of anxiousness. I am interested to hear about specific events, either in the past or looming on the horizon, which are causing distress. I want to learn about the thoughts, feelings, and physical symptoms surrounding these events and how the client reacts as a result.
With the tools clients gain during counseling, they can begin to prevent these destructive forces from running roughshod over their lives. A big stride towards success happens when clients become more aware of the thoughts they are experiencing and take a moment to step back. They can start to ask questions like:
- What was I thinking when I began to feel anxious?
- This upcoming event that is so concerning…Do I really have to do it perfectly, or am I putting myself in a no-win situation?
- The outcome is uncertain which is uncomfortable, but does that have to mean the worst will happen?
- I am not a mind reader. Is it possible that person wasn’t thinking that?
- What is another way I can interpret this event?
- Is this thought realistic, or has it jumped all the way to the worst case scenario?
- Are there any errors in this thought?
- Am I being too hard on myself?
As clients learn to spot destructive thoughts and begin to put them into perspective, I work as a team with them to come up with new positive thoughts for their mind to work on. I guide clients through exercises that increase mindfulness. Some clients have found that certain reaffirming or calming messages help put situations in perspective. Others find relief through relaxation exercises such as deep breathing techniques.
This is not a quick or easy process, especially for those who have been experiencing anxiety for years. In fact, for things to get better, clients come to a point where they face some of their biggest fears. It can be hard work, and there’s no magic formula that makes it all disappear.
However, for clients who trust the process, a change is possible. They can interrupt cycles that lead to thought distortion. They are able to be more forgiving toward themselves for their own mistakes. They start to feel hope.
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“Dr. Lisa was by far the easiest person I have ever spoken with. She makes you feel extremely comfortable, and she doesn’t pressure or judge you in any way!…Dr. Lisa, thank you for being there…” Read more…