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  • 7 Ways Therapy Can Help You With Anxiety

    7 Ways Therapy Can Help You With Anxiety

    Do you struggle when you’re in social settings? Do you have panic attacks when you feel overwhelmed? Do you experience intense existential dread that affects your daily functioning?

    You’re not alone. Anxiety disorders impact 40 million American adults– approximately 1 in 5 people!

    While symptoms can range in severity, there’s no doubt that anxiety can be frustrating, exhausting, and confusing. Even if you have tried managing your feelings on your own, you might still struggle.

    Therapy can give you the right tools and strategies to look after your anxiety. Let’s get into what you need to know!

    Identify (and Plan for) Anxiety Triggers

    Let’s be real. Even the calmest and most serene person can’t entirely avoid anxiety. Everyone experiences stress from time to time- it’s a normal part of life.

    But it’s important to know the people, places, and situations that may trigger your anxiety. Maybe you already know them. But there’s a possibility you don’t. And even if you have some insight into what causes your distress, therapy can help you dig deeper into those entrenched patterns.

    Some common anxiety triggers include:

    • Interpersonal conflict
    • Work-related pressure
    • Social situations
    • Finances
    • Mood-altering substances (caffeine, nicotine, cannabis, etc.)
    • Life transitions
    • Trauma
    • Sudden or significant changes in your routine

    It’s important to remember that triggers aren’t random. Stress occurs when your brain detects a threat. Whether this danger is real or perceived, your brain moves into a survival stance. This is commonly known as the fight/flight/freeze response.

    While you can’t control fear, you can choose how you react to it. But you need to know what causes the fear in the first place!

    Challenge Negative Thinking

    Anxiety lives in the future. When you feel anxious, you’re negatively anticipating what will happen next. Your mind may automatically go to the worst-case scenario. But if you repeatedly obsess over certain fears, you may feel discouraged, helpless, or entirely out of control.

    Anxiety spirals rarely help. If anything, they often trigger more anxiety. You start feeling anxious about feeling anxious!

    Therapy can help you ground yourself and put things back into perspective. Challenging negative thinking may include cognitive-behavioral techniques like:

    • Examining the evidence to determine the legitimacy of a thought
    • Asking yourself if there are alternative perspectives
    • Reviewing the pros and cons of believing a thought
    • Looking into any cognitive distortions affecting your thinking

    These strategies allow you to look at the situation more rationally.

    Your feelings are always real. But anxiety has a sneaky way of convincing us that negative beliefs are entirely factual. Learning how to confront and challenge these thoughts can help you feel more empowered.

    Learn Relaxation Skills

    Mindfulness counteracts anxiety. When you can embrace living in the present moment, you honor living in a state of acceptance.

    Acceptance doesn’t mean you necessarily like all the circumstances in your life. Life isn’t always fair, and you certainly don’t need to enjoy everything. But acceptance means that you can practice some grace, forgiveness, and peace at a given moment.

    For this reason, learning to slow down and relax represents an important component of anxiety treatment. Your therapist can help you build simple coping skills like deep breathing, grounding exercises, and mindfulness meditation.

    Increase Confidence

    Does low self-esteem cause anxiety? Or does anxiety cause low self-esteem?

    Researchers don’t exactly know the answer, but meta-analyses show there’s an undeniable connection between the two issues. People with low self-esteem tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety. And, as you know, when you feel extremely anxious, it’s hard to feel good about yourself.

    That said, in many ways, therapy can help restore and build your confidence. Challenging your negative thoughts and practicing self-care support you in strengthening your relationship with yourself.

    Therapy can cultivate your self-esteem by helping you:

    • Learn and practice positive affirmations
    • Recognize your inherent worth
    • Build upon your existing strengths
    • Set better boundaries in your relationships
    • Advocate for your needs

    Self-esteem work is an ongoing process. You don’t just reach some mystical confidence destination overnight. But while it takes time to feel better about yourself, it’s certainly worth the effort.

    Embrace a Healthier Lifestyle

    It’s no secret that the mind and body are inherently connected. Taking care of your physical health can help lower stress and improve your emotional well-being.

    In therapy, you will learn how to replace negative coping skills with more positive, adaptive ones. There is no single definition for a healthy lifestyle, and what works for one person may not be as effective for someone else. That said, your therapist may examine some or all of the following components and how they intersect with your anxiety:

    • Appetite and eating habits
    • Physical activity
    • Sleep
    • Current relationships
    • Work-life balance
    • Chronic pain or medical conditions

    Generally speaking, the more you can focus on decreasing your stress, the less hold anxiety will have over your life. But managing stress isn’t just about taking a bubble bath or writing down your gratitude. It’s often about critically examining how you live your life and structure your days.

    Feel Supported

    Unfortunately, many people feel alone with their anxiety. They often experience guilt, embarrassment, or shame about their mental health. These feelings can exacerbate anxiety, creating a vicious cycle.

    Therapy provides a compassionate environment to truly talk about what’s going on without judgment. You have complete permission to be yourself, and no topic is entirely off-limits.

    Likewise, your therapist is here to support you unconditionally. They believe in you, and they have your back! Many people find that just having that support gives them the courage and strength to take care of themselves.

    Getting the Anxiety Treatment You Need in Illinois

    Unpacking your anxiety can feel unnerving. Even the thought of talking to a therapist might make you feel anxious! But nothing changes if nothing changes, and failing to manage your anxiety will likely make it worse (but you probably know that!).

    Anxiety doesn’t have to determine your actions or steal your confidence. We see you. We get how anxiety works, and we’re here to work with you. Contact us today to get started!