Friends, this month we want to talk about a little gremlin we all know called Anxiety. Join us as we break down what it is, what causes it, and how you can help yourself!
“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.”*
What is anxiety?
Anxiety can show up differently for different people and typically can be felt in the body and experienced as worrisome thoughts. These symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Tightness in the chest
- Racing heart
- Rumbling happening in your body
- Headaches, body aches, and nausea
- Feeling heavy, stuck, or frozen
- Worst case scenario thinking
- Worry about what will happen later today, tomorrow, a month from now, anytime in the future
- Feeling like something is wrong, like you’re not good enough, or something bad is going to happen
- Over planning and strategizing for things that have not yet happened
- Checking on things compulsively
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety can stem from several sources. Yet, often these sources can be categorized as biological or genetic, environmental, and/or experiential.
Biological – Basically means you were born with and inherited a likelihood to have anxiety. For example, if anxiety runs in your family, you could be hard wired and pre-dispositioned to experience anxiety as well.
Environmental – This means something in your environment is causing and triggering anxiety. Your environment would include things like your living conditions, family of origin, your culture and conditioning, how your day to day life interacts with you.
A huge environmental cause of anxiety is trauma. When our brains and bodies live through trauma, the memory gets stuck in the mid-brain and the energy gets stuck in the body, and both can cause anxiety. When these things happen, we tend to feel unsafe, therefore needing to constantly scan our environment for safety, which can feel like anxiety.
When we don’t know what to expect from our environment, we develop a keen ability to sense other people’s moods and energies which can manifest as anxiety. Growing up in an environment that was not safe, where one or both parents were abusive or had substance abuse problems, being bullied, or experiencing humiliation are all examples of environmental causes of anxiety. Also included in that list: being frightened, getting into car accidents, or being confronted or surprised in a scary way.
Experiential – This can stem from something being incongruent inside of you. If you are not living in alignment with who you really are and with your values, it could be causing anxiety. Think mid-life crises, which I call “awakenings.” Being in transition causes so much anxiety because you are figuring out how to get through it while discovering who you are becoming. This unknowing and confusion lends itself to questioning, predicting scary outcomes, and fear.
Looking at the source of your anxiety can inform what is needed to treat the anxiety, while also igniting a compassionate and loving understanding of who you are and why you are feeling the anxiety. And also, knowing the root isn’t always ESSENTIAL to healing and learning how to cope with your anxiety.
Tips for helping you navigate anxiety:
Everything begins and ends with awareness, being present, and knowing the one thing you can always control are your inhales and exhales (which have unlimited power and resources in them!)
Slow down and begin to notice your anxiety and how it is showing up for you. Name it and call it out for what it is… just the anxiety showing up. You are not an anxious person- you are experiencing anxiety. Treat this experience as if it were a visitor coming and going. Doing this puts distance between the anxiety and your response to it, externalization is so powerful.
Take 10 belly breaths throughout your day. (What are belly breaths? Click here to learn more!)
Set a time on your phone to check in on your anxiety 2 times a day, and just notice where it is at and ask yourself what you need in that moment.
Go on a walk or MOVE YOUR BODY! Emotions need to be IN MOTION so moving them through your body is so helpful.
Take a bath or do something calming and nurturing for your body.
Get a weighted blanket.
Do something with your hands like paint or crochet.
Pay attention to what the anxiety might be drawing your attention to. For example, perhaps the anxiety is warning you to get out of an unhealthy relationship, or to release something that is no longer serving you, or to switch careers.
Find the right therapist for you. They will be your touchstone for a comprehensive treatment plan. Healing and reprocessing trauma you have experienced is going to be key. We encourage Brainspotting for trauma work, which you can learn more about here.
This is only scratching the surface on a really big topic that impacts so many of us. If you feel like you would benefit from additional support, reach out to Brooke Jean and let’s help you manage it, rather than letting it manage you.
In the month of November, Brooke will be sharing more anxiety tips LIVE on her Brooke Jean Counseling and Coaching Facebook – be sure to tune in!