Stuck in your anxiety? How Counseling helps you take control

How Counseling Can Help With Anxiety 

The wild roller coaster of life has its ups and downs… to say the very least. While its twists and turns are inevitable, aiming to enjoy the ride despite life’s unpredictable peaks and dips is important! While the roller coaster might feel exciting most days, there are some days where it only makes you feel nauseous or stressed out and it can be hard to figure out why. Sometimes, this icky feeling is understandable considering life’s circumstances, but other times you might feel like you go from calm to chaos in the blink of an eye. If this sounds like you, you might have already been introduced to a not-so-friendly friend: Anxiety. It’s probably been a frustrating journey trying to understand this high-maintenance and moody new pal, but that is where counseling can provide the tools you need to gain more control over the way you handle life’s stress and heal your relationship with it. Counseling can help you not only identify where it is rooted but also how to cope in healthy ways when you feel most anxious, and we know those moments can be scary. Through this type of anxiety counseling, your psychotherapist will help you design and lay out the sturdy foundation you need to improve your mental health and provide you with a safe place to discuss methods that will change the game for you and your life. While it will certainly take time to put what you learn into practice, discussing what makes you feel uneasy can only be beneficial. So, before you start Googling “Anxiety counseling near me” and looking into which therapist is the best fit for you, let’s first talk a little about the ways it might manifest throughout the day. 

Anxiety: It Looks Different for Everyone… But Counseling Can Help Anyone

Let’s assume you do end up making the brave but empowering decision to face your anxiety in therapy with a counselor. You will likely discuss what makes you stressed and what emotions or bodily reactions accompany that discomfort. It doesn’t just play games with your mental health, it’s a full-body experience. You might have noticed that anxiety can have physical impacts on your body, from racing thoughts to sweaty palms, and sleepless nights to sudden panic attacks. Nausea, which we’ve briefly introduced, is another way your body might react to stress or worry. When you feel anxious, your heart might race, pounding against your chest, while your breath comes in short, shallow bursts. 

Here’s a list of 10 different physical ways your anxiety might manifest:

  1. Racing Thoughts: Constantly cycling through worries, fears, and worst-case scenarios.
  2. Overwhelming Worry: Feeling consumed by apprehension and unease, even in seemingly ordinary situations.
  3. Difficulty Concentrating: Struggling to focus or maintain attention due to intrusive thoughts or preoccupation.
  4. Irrational Fears: Experiencing intense, irrational fears that disrupt daily life and decision-making.
  5. Emotional Rollercoaster: Fluctuating between feelings of fear, panic, nervousness, and dread.
  6. Hypervigilance: Being constantly on edge, scanning for potential threats or dangers.
  7. Negative Self-Talk: Engaging in self-critical or self-doubting thoughts, undermining confidence and self-esteem.
  8. Physical Symptoms Amplification: Sensitizing to physical sensations, interpreting them as signs of impending danger or illness.
  9. Avoidance Behaviors: Avoiding situations or activities that trigger anxiety, leading to social isolation or impaired functioning.
  10. Exhaustion and Burnout: Feeling mentally and emotionally drained from the constant battle against anxiety, impacting overall energy levels and resilience.

Anxiety’s Impact on the Mind: Where Counseling Helps

At the heart of anxiety is a tangle of trauma, emotions, fears, and insecurities that may have never been confronted. While it’s natural to immediately focus on relieving the symptoms when beginning therapy, there might be some things you have to address first to understand what it is rooted in. Anxiety is something that could be ingrained in your mind over time, so it will take time to allow your counselor to help peel back your emotional layers and hone in on what is happening beneath all the stress. This is where counseling is truly impressive, as you may learn things about yourself that you have never considered. Your anxiety today can be associated with something that happened years ago, so unveiling any trauma is incredibly important to your healing process, and your therapist will be there to help you along the way. Counseling sessions provide you with a dedicated space to explore these underlying factors and work through them at your own pace, under the guidance of a trained professional.

Anxiety takes a huge emotional toll on you as well, so if you are having trouble regulating negative emotions such as loneliness, sadness, or anger in everyday situations, discovering what it has to do with it will be incredibly helpful. Individuals grappling with frequent stress may find themselves overwhelmed by intense emotions such as fear, worry, or panic, making it challenging to maintain a sense of calm and control. However, the connection between your emotions and anxiety is a two-way street. Struggles with emotional regulation can also contribute to the development or exacerbation of anxiety symptoms, creating a cyclical pattern of distress. Learning effective coping strategies through psychotherapy, such as mindfulness techniques or cognitive-behavioral interventions, can help individuals develop healthier emotional regulation skills, empowering them to navigate anxiety more effectively and cultivate greater emotional resilience. Through counseling, individuals can explore the intricate relationship between their emotions and anxiety, gaining insights and skills to manage both more effectively.

Read more on How An Anxiety Therapist Can Help 

How Counseling Can Target Anxiety That Impacts Your Social Life and Relationships 

What impacts you internally will eventually manifest externally. While you may feel the personal impact anxiety has on your body and mind, other people may feel it too. Just as your anxiety can be tied to your past, it can be tied to certain people or social situations, and you may find in counseling that your anxious tendencies may be more related to your social atmosphere than you considered. Pinpointing exactly who or what makes you feel anxious and talking about it in a safe place free of judgment is a healthy way to regain control over your stress. Anxiety counseling sessions can provide you with the opportunity to engage in cognitive-behavioral and emotionally focused techniques, gradually beginning to be more trusting of anxiety-provoking situations in a supportive environment. This process, facilitated by a skilled psychotherapist, allows individuals to challenge negative thought patterns and build confidence in social interactions that once seemed terrifying to endure alone. We also want to continue to emphasize that counseling provides a safe space for clients to express their fears and concerns without judgment, fostering a sense of trust in the relationship you’ll form with your therapist.

Your engagement with others socially can be accompanied by an unwelcome third wheel of anxiety that crashes any conversation, event, or relationship. It can even become a silent barrier between you and the world, whispering doubts and insecurities into your ear that make social interactions more stressful and uneasy. You might quickly find yourself in a state of fear of saying the wrong thing, being judged, or not fitting in with your peers. Trying to navigate life with this mindset is overwhelming, and often so much so that it can lead you to cancel plans or avoid a conversation with someone you are close to and comfortable around.

In counseling sessions, clients can engage in cognitive-behavioral and emotionally focused techniques, gradually beginning to be more trusting of anxiety-provoking situations in a supportive environment. This process, facilitated by a skilled psychotherapist, allows individuals to challenge negative thought patterns and build confidence in social interactions that once seemed terrifying to endure alone. We also want to continue to emphasize that anxiety counseling provides a safe space for clients to express their fears and concerns without judgment, fostering a sense of trust in the relationship you’ll form with your therapist.

As for your relationships? Anxiety likes to play the role of the saboteur, sowing seeds of doubt and distrust where there should be love and connection. Despite your good intentions, the fear of being vulnerable and opening up can negatively impact your relationships and cause your partner, friends, or family members to feel distant from you. While this can be hard on everyone involved, taking the initiative and allowing yourself the time to manage your anxious feelings benefits your loved ones just as much as it helps you. After your therapist helps you confront what makes you anxious, they can work with you on navigating your social relationships too, providing you with support and encouragement the whole time.

Here at Estes Therapy, we’ve seen the many ways anxiety can influence your social life. Here are a few of our resources that are free to refer to anytime:

5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety and Relationship Doubts 

Coping with Relationship Anxiety: Tools for Overcoming Insecurities 

Social Anxiety: Strategies for Navigating Social Situations 

How Counseling Can Help You Learn How To Use Anxiety To Your Advantage 

What is important to understand about counseling for anxiety is that you will not walk out of therapy “cured” of anxious thoughts. Anxiety is a fact of life. While a therapist can provide you with tools, resources, and a new mindset on your approach to anxiety, their goal is not to completely resolve you of anxious tendencies. Not only would that be impossible, but, you likely would not want to completely rid of your anxiety, even if you could. Surprised? Well, anxiety can actually have its benefits. Those benefits are not very hard to prove and therapists have discussed these perks, too. Ever procrastinated? You’re lying if you say no. Think of schoolwork you might have done in the past or trying to find an outfit for a wedding you have to attend in the next week. Waiting until the last minute is stressful, but when you know you have to get something done, your body helps you out. You move a bit quicker because you know you don’t have a choice. Ultimately, you’ll finish the paper or find an outfit that works if you put your mind to it. If you didn’t feel at least a little anxious, you likely would not have gotten it done in time. Essentially, if you’re anxious about something, you probably care about it, and that’s not a bad thing.

While we’ve discussed anxiety as moody and manipulative, there’s another way we can explain it, too. Sometimes, anxiety feels like a fire within. It can make you hot, both physically and emotionally, and if you don’t gain control over it, it can spread and be incredibly damaging to your well-being. However, doesn’t always have to be dangerous. Think about the candle you light on your bedside table or the bonfire you sit around with your friends. When a fire is controlled, it can create a very pleasant atmosphere. That’s what therapy can help create for you. Rather than fixating on how to completely alleviate your anxiety, focusing on how you can use it to your advantage and maintain healthy control over it will be incredibly beneficial to the way you live your life. Your therapist can guide you through this process, teaching you how to embrace your anxiety and rework it into something that is not so scary. Counseling can provide you with the tools and support needed to achieve this.

As you navigate the twists and turns of the counseling journey, it’s essential to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small. It takes a huge amount of courage to even seek out help in the first place and each step forward is a testament to your resilience and determination in taking control over your life and the way you want to live it. We’ve discussed the multiple ways anxiety can impact your life, so a lot will change as you begin to alter your mindset on anxiety. These changes will be gradual and seeing them immediately should not be of concern. You are moving in the right direction and your therapist will be there to support you along the way. Most importantly, remember to be gentle and compassionate with yourself throughout this process. Grant yourself grace and patience as some days will be harder than others. Remind yourself frequently that anxiety is part of the human experience and while it can cause distress, it never lasts forever. Also, keep in mind that pushing yourself emotionally and communicating about something as complex as anxiety can and will be tiring but that is why counseling is so helpful. You are not alone and you are only getting closer to transforming your anxiety from something that once controlled you into something you can confidently have agency over.

  1. Muscle Tension: Neck, shoulder, and back stiffness or pain.
  2. Headaches: Tension headaches, are often described as a tightening band around the head.
  3. Gastrointestinal Issues: Stomach pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
  4. Cardiovascular Effects: Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  5. Respiratory Symptoms: Shortness of breath, chest tightness, or hyperventilation.
  6. Fatigue: Feelings of exhaustion, difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  7. Immune System Suppression: Increased susceptibility to infections and illnesses.
  8. Skin Conditions: Exacerbation of eczema, psoriasis, acne, or hives.
  9. Tremors and Twitching: Shaking hands, muscle twitching, or tremors.
  10. Dizziness and Lightheadedness: Sensations of dizziness or feeling faint.

These physical reactions to stress and anxiety can sometimes be inconvenient, often annoying, and occasionally downright scary. Taking the time to tune in to your body and seeking medical attention when necessary is incredibly important to your physical and mental health. These types of reactions can be easier to identify because you can physically see and feel the way they’re impacting your body. As mentioned previously, though, it is a full-body experience. That being said, we’re still missing the main area of the body that triggers your anxious responses, which is the brain. Your brain is the control center of your entire body, pulling the strings of your physical sensations, emotions, memories, and problem-solving skills. Essentially, anxiety is a full-blown mind game. If anxiety is your high-maintenance, moody friend, it is also a master manipulator. When anxious thoughts hit, they can make everything heightened, and things will seem far worse than they are. Exhausting, right? This is where counseling will really do you some justice.

Here’s a list of 10 mental impacts you might relate to: 

  1. Racing Thoughts: Constantly cycling through worries, fears, and worst-case scenarios.
  2. Overwhelming Worry: Feeling consumed by apprehension and unease, even in seemingly ordinary situations.
  3. Difficulty Concentrating: Struggling to focus or maintain attention due to intrusive thoughts or preoccupation.
  4. Irrational Fears: Experiencing intense, irrational fears that disrupt daily life and decision-making.
  5. Emotional Rollercoaster: Fluctuating between feelings of fear, panic, nervousness, and dread.
  6. Hypervigilance: Being constantly on edge, scanning for potential threats or dangers.
  7. Negative Self-Talk: Engaging in self-critical or self-doubting thoughts, undermining confidence and self-esteem.
  8. Physical Symptoms Amplification: Sensitizing to physical sensations, interpreting them as signs of impending danger or illness.
  9. Avoidance Behaviors: Avoiding situations or activities that trigger anxiety, leading to social isolation or impaired functioning.
  10. Exhaustion and Burnout: Feeling mentally and emotionally drained from the constant battle against anxiety, impacting overall energy levels and resilience.

Anxiety’s Impact on the Mind: Where Counseling Helps

At the heart of anxiety is a tangle of trauma, emotions, fears, and insecurities that may have never been confronted. While it’s natural to immediately focus on relieving the symptoms when beginning therapy, there might be some things you have to address first to understand what it is rooted in. Anxiety is something that could be ingrained in your mind over time, so it will take time to allow your counselor to help peel back your emotional layers and hone in on what is happening beneath all the stress. This is where counseling is truly impressive, as you may learn things about yourself that you have never considered. Your anxiety today can be associated with something that happened years ago, so unveiling any trauma is incredibly important to your healing process, and your therapist will be there to help you along the way. Counseling sessions provide you with a dedicated space to explore these underlying factors and work through them at your own pace, under the guidance of a trained professional.

Anxiety takes a huge emotional toll on you as well, so if you are having trouble regulating negative emotions such as loneliness, sadness, or anger in everyday situations, discovering what it has to do with it will be incredibly helpful. Individuals grappling with frequent stress may find themselves overwhelmed by intense emotions such as fear, worry, or panic, making it challenging to maintain a sense of calm and control. However, the connection between your emotions and anxiety is a two-way street. Struggles with emotional regulation can also contribute to the development or exacerbation of anxiety symptoms, creating a cyclical pattern of distress. Learning effective coping strategies through psychotherapy, such as mindfulness techniques or cognitive-behavioral interventions, can help individuals develop healthier emotional regulation skills, empowering them to navigate anxiety more effectively and cultivate greater emotional resilience. Through counseling, individuals can explore the intricate relationship between their emotions and anxiety, gaining insights and skills to manage both more effectively.

Read more on How An Anxiety Therapist Can Help 

How Counseling Can Target Anxiety That Impacts Your Social Life and Relationships 

What impacts you internally will eventually manifest externally. While you may feel the personal impact anxiety has on your body and mind, other people may feel it too. Just as your anxiety can be tied to your past, it can be tied to certain people or social situations, and you may find in counseling that your anxious tendencies may be more related to your social atmosphere than you considered. Pinpointing exactly who or what makes you feel anxious and talking about it in a safe place free of judgment is a healthy way to regain control over your stress. Anxiety counseling sessions can provide you with the opportunity to engage in cognitive-behavioral and emotionally focused techniques, gradually beginning to be more trusting of anxiety-provoking situations in a supportive environment. This process, facilitated by a skilled psychotherapist, allows individuals to challenge negative thought patterns and build confidence in social interactions that once seemed terrifying to endure alone. We also want to continue to emphasize that counseling provides a safe space for clients to express their fears and concerns without judgment, fostering a sense of trust in the relationship you’ll form with your therapist.

Your engagement with others socially can be accompanied by an unwelcome third wheel of anxiety that crashes any conversation, event, or relationship. It can even become a silent barrier between you and the world, whispering doubts and insecurities into your ear that make social interactions more stressful and uneasy. You might quickly find yourself in a state of fear of saying the wrong thing, being judged, or not fitting in with your peers. Trying to navigate life with this mindset is overwhelming, and often so much so that it can lead you to cancel plans or avoid a conversation with someone you are close to and comfortable around.

In counseling sessions, clients can engage in cognitive-behavioral and emotionally focused techniques, gradually beginning to be more trusting of anxiety-provoking situations in a supportive environment. This process, facilitated by a skilled psychotherapist, allows individuals to challenge negative thought patterns and build confidence in social interactions that once seemed terrifying to endure alone. We also want to continue to emphasize that anxiety counseling provides a safe space for clients to express their fears and concerns without judgment, fostering a sense of trust in the relationship you’ll form with your therapist.

As for your relationships? Anxiety likes to play the role of the saboteur, sowing seeds of doubt and distrust where there should be love and connection. Despite your good intentions, the fear of being vulnerable and opening up can negatively impact your relationships and cause your partner, friends, or family members to feel distant from you. While this can be hard on everyone involved, taking the initiative and allowing yourself the time to manage your anxious feelings benefits your loved ones just as much as it helps you. After your therapist helps you confront what makes you anxious, they can work with you on navigating your social relationships too, providing you with support and encouragement the whole time.

Here at Estes Therapy, we’ve seen the many ways anxiety can influence your social life. Here are a few of our resources that are free to refer to anytime:

5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety and Relationship Doubts 

Coping with Relationship Anxiety: Tools for Overcoming Insecurities 

Social Anxiety: Strategies for Navigating Social Situations 

How Counseling Can Help You Learn How To Use Anxiety To Your Advantage 

What is important to understand about counseling for anxiety is that you will not walk out of therapy “cured” of anxious thoughts. Anxiety is a fact of life. While a therapist can provide you with tools, resources, and a new mindset on your approach to anxiety, their goal is not to completely resolve you of anxious tendencies. Not only would that be impossible, but, you likely would not want to completely rid of your anxiety, even if you could. Surprised? Well, anxiety can actually have its benefits. Those benefits are not very hard to prove and therapists have discussed these perks, too. Ever procrastinated? You’re lying if you say no. Think of schoolwork you might have done in the past or trying to find an outfit for a wedding you have to attend in the next week. Waiting until the last minute is stressful, but when you know you have to get something done, your body helps you out. You move a bit quicker because you know you don’t have a choice. Ultimately, you’ll finish the paper or find an outfit that works if you put your mind to it. If you didn’t feel at least a little anxious, you likely would not have gotten it done in time. Essentially, if you’re anxious about something, you probably care about it, and that’s not a bad thing.

While we’ve discussed anxiety as moody and manipulative, there’s another way we can explain it, too. Sometimes, anxiety feels like a fire within. It can make you hot, both physically and emotionally, and if you don’t gain control over it, it can spread and be incredibly damaging to your well-being. However, doesn’t always have to be dangerous. Think about the candle you light on your bedside table or the bonfire you sit around with your friends. When a fire is controlled, it can create a very pleasant atmosphere. That’s what therapy can help create for you. Rather than fixating on how to completely alleviate your anxiety, focusing on how you can use it to your advantage and maintain healthy control over it will be incredibly beneficial to the way you live your life. Your therapist can guide you through this process, teaching you how to embrace your anxiety and rework it into something that is not so scary. Counseling can provide you with the tools and support needed to achieve this.

As you navigate the twists and turns of the counseling journey, it’s essential to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small. It takes a huge amount of courage to even seek out help in the first place and each step forward is a testament to your resilience and determination in taking control over your life and the way you want to live it. We’ve discussed the multiple ways anxiety can impact your life, so a lot will change as you begin to alter your mindset on anxiety. These changes will be gradual and seeing them immediately should not be of concern. You are moving in the right direction and your therapist will be there to support you along the way. Most importantly, remember to be gentle and compassionate with yourself throughout this process. Grant yourself grace and patience as some days will be harder than others. Remind yourself frequently that anxiety is part of the human experience and while it can cause distress, it never lasts forever. Also, keep in mind that pushing yourself emotionally and communicating about something as complex as anxiety can and will be tiring but that is why counseling is so helpful. You are not alone and you are only getting closer to transforming your anxiety from something that once controlled you into something you can confidently have agency over.

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It’s been nearly 20 years since I first became interested in studying psychotherapy. I began practicing the scientific approaches to psychotherapy in 1997 and I was hooked from then on.

I earned my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family psychotherapy in 2004 and I am currently licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist MFT (LMFT#47653) with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS).

I focus my practice upon the empirically-based and proven research methods of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

I’ve seen these techniques consistently get results and I truly believe they are the most effective at creating positive, long-term change.

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Seeking a therapist can be the best thing you do not just for your relationship, but for yourself. If you are seeking compassionate, knowledgeable, and understanding professional help, we invite you to explore our services. We are here to help you make the most of your life.