COUNSELLING FOR ANXIETY
It’s important to understand that the underlying emotion of anxiety is fear and therefore anxiety has a strong physical component, a fear response in the body.
A fear response of fight, flight or freeze is built into humans as a survival mechanism. The problem is that the body reacts to thoughts of fear in the exact same way as to a real and present threat to survival. To use an analogy, chronic anxiety is like a toaster being placed underneath a smoke alarm. We end up with lots of false fear alarms and the body has no choice but to react every time.
Once the fear response is triggered, our body goes into survival mode – adrenaline is released into the system, blood rushes to the limbs for extra power to run or fight, the thinking area of the brain goes offline and dizziness or light headedness occurs –- digestion shuts down which leads to a loss of appetite and stomach upset or nausea.
In this heightened state of anxiety, talking about it is not helpful - but self-regulating responses can be learned to help ride out these situations.
It is painful and debilitating to have low level anxiety all or much of the time and especially to have a fear response in situations which don’t warrant it. So, it makes sense that our natural reaction is to avoid situations that evoke fear responses. In the case of anxiety, however, avoidance limits our lives and actually makes anxiety worse over time.
There is hope as counselling can be very effective for treating anxiety. CBT can can be used to help identify how thoughts, feelings, physiological reactions and behaviors all contribute to a cycle of anxiety. By increasing awareness of what is happening specifically for you (specific fears and triggers), we will work together to interrupt the anxiety cycle and reduce your symptoms. We will also prepare and rehearse coping responses when anxiety gets triggered and self-regulating practices to use when early signs of anxiety are noticed.
You learn how to shut off the false alarms and get back to a more calm experience of life.
But there are some more benefits to uprooting anxiety in you. Working to separate thoughts, feelings, physiological reactions and behavior through CBT not only points the way for you to shift anxiety patterns, it highlights the power of your awareness to make deep changes to other areas of your life. You will learn not to follow every thought and experience how empowering your natural ability to control the focus of your attention is. With this new experiential knowledge, you may find that shifting anxiety is just the beginning of a pathway into deeper and deeper levels of personal growth and wellness.