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How can I get rid of my anxiety?

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

Anxiety can feel overwhelming and it presents in many forms. It can come on abruptly, seemingly out of nowhere (i.e., panic attacks). It can be pervasive and worrying about possible outcomes of events can become our new “normal” (i.e., generalized anxiety disorder). When anxious, we can feel entirely out of control and perceive ourselves as unable to affect our lives in any way.

However, in our efforts to rid ourselves of anxiety we often ignore the emotion’s purpose. Anxiety is telling us something. It is informing us that there is a matter in our lives which may warrant further attention. For example, most people can appreciate feeling tense and jittery. Sometimes anxiety can present in this manner when we have been sedentary for a stretch of time. In such times, movement/exercise tends to lessen the emotion's intensity. Anxiety can also rear its head when we are reminded of a future deadline or task that needs addressed. This can lead us to avoid approaching this task; however, this avoidance tends to maintain anxiety.

Therefore, we must first understand the source of our anxiety and whether the emotion is operating at a functional level. If preparing for a test or to play a sport, some anxiety is actually healthy. It can keep us focused on the task at hand. However, the intensity of this emotion can also reach a dysfunctional level. We can then feel overwhelmed by anxiety and our other emotions and have unhelpful reactions to distressing emotions/situations.

The question then arises: how do we deal with anxiety? Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach which first asks us to identify factors that contribute to anxiety. Procrastination is one such factor that increases anxiety. Managing our tendency to procrastinate would involve planning more effectively and establishing a firm plan through which we approach important tasks (i.e., working for an hour Monday-Friday, rather than working eight hours up until the deadline). Within therapy you and your therapist will work at your own pace; they'll help you develop cognitive skills via which you can better understand the factors contributing to your anxiety. Then, you’ll continue to work outside of session implementing your learned skills.

Ultimately, we aren’t trying to get rid of anxiety entirely; we want you to understand when and how anxiety affects you. We also want you to better appreciate the power and control you have over your emotional experience. Improvement tends to come after a few sessions and will continue as a result of your consistent efforts at understanding and changing thought patterns. These changes will then lead to a reduction in the intensity of the emotion, will increase your willingness to feel the emotion, and eventually help you respond more effectively to the emotion. Finally, as you behaviorally approach anxiety-inducing situations, you’ll learn that previously feared outcomes are unlikely.

If you’re wondering whether now is the right time to seek therapy, Roswell Psychology is here for you. Please contact us for a free 15-minute consultation.

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