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By Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

You guys, life is hard. Everyone knows that. We all worry sometimes; we all have times where we feel scared or afraid. This is just part of being human. How do you know when normal worry or stress has crossed the line into an anxiety problem?

Normal Worry & Stress

Typical levels of worry and stress can actually be helpful. For example, if you have a big presentation at work, the anxiety of doing well can motivate you to prepare thoroughly and excel. Also, if campers are out in the woods and a bear shows up, fear will make them run to safety. Often trying something new can make you feel nervous as well, but it can motivate you to go for it.

These kinds of everyday worry and stress don’t impact your quality of life, and in fact, may actually be helpful. When your anxiety starts to affect your daily life, then you have a problem.

Problem Anxiety

Anxiety has three elements: thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. When your anxiety overwhelms you in all these areas and decreases your quality of life, you need to seek the help of a specialized anxiety therapist. Let’s look these more closely.

· Thoughts. If you have worried thoughts that seem to snowball, you just can’t stop them, and makes you extra tense or keeps you from sleeping, your anxiety is a problem.

· Feelings. If you have regular feelings of fear or dread, you are always expecting the worst to happen, your anxiety is more than normal worrying.

· Physical symptoms. Rapid heart rate, dizziness, sweating, muscle tension, issues sleeping are all indicators your anxiety is a problem.

In addition to these thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms, people with anxiety often avoid certain activities to try to control it. Again, this impacts their quality of life, because they miss out on fun experiences out of fear. In some situations, they may not be able to accomplish daily tasks such as going to the grocery store or driving to work.

What Can I Do to Help My Anxiety?

First of all, if you do have anxiety, please seek help from an anxiety counselor. You don’t have to live with your anxiety controlling you. A specialist can help you learn new tools and change your thought patterns to assist you in minimizing your anxiety.

There are a few helpful things you can do at home to create a lifestyle geared toward minimizing anxiety:

1. Exercise. Yes, I know, we hear this all the time. But seriously guys, exercise effects the chemicals in your brain, which then lowers your anxiety. Even walking regularly can help.

2. Regular sleep. Don’t stay up super late or wake up crazy early all the time. Try to get a minimum of 8 hours a night. Lack of sleep equals more anxiety.

3. Avoid caffeine. Research shows caffeine an increase anxiety symptoms. Cut back on the coffee, you will be glad you did.

4. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is kind of trendy these days, and normally I avoid trendy things. But mindfulness is the real deal. There all several apps out there to help you build your mindfulness skills. My favorite is Headspace. Pick one and try it out for at least a week.

5. Friendships. We aren’t meant to live life lonely – and if you struggle with anxiety, find a trusted friend or two and share your experience. Social connections (real friendships, not online “friends”) are essential to our mental health, and you might just find your friends experience anxiety too.

Anxiety Counseling in Ambler, PA

At Lime Tree Counseling, our team specializes in anxiety counseling. We want to help you find freedom from the anxiety that is controlling you. Please contact us today and set up a free 15-minute phone consultation or an initial appointment. We want to hear your story and talk about how we can help you.

Sometimes anxiety goes hand in hand with other challenges. Our therapists at Lime Tree Counseling also provide PTSD & Trauma Treatment and marriage counseling. Please send us a message with any questions or to schedule an appointment. We truly want to see you live life as you were meant to live.