Do You Find It Impossible To Relax And Be Still?
Are you dealing with racing thoughts, panic attacks, or uncontrollable worry? Maybe you have social anxiety, and you live in constant fear of judgment when you’re around others. Perhaps you’re struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance—you’ve taken on too many responsibilities and your job stresses you out. Or maybe you simply feel uncomfortable in your own body, but neither meditation nor yoga help.
You may not even know the source of your anxiety. If it is related to situational stress, you probably wish you could relax and catch a break. But if your anxiety stems from unresolved trauma, trying to relax could be stressful. You may feel constantly alert and hypervigilant, like you’re anticipating that something bad will happen. As a result, it feels impossible to slow down and sit alone with your thoughts.
Beneath all anxiety is the feeling that you’re not in control—of your work, relationships, or whatever is stressing you out most. Here at Higher Self Psychotherapy, my goal is to help you regulate your emotions more effectively and relinquish the hold that anxiety has on your life.
Anxiety Is The Norm In A World Where Hard Work And Success Are Revered
Stress is not always the enemy. Feeling anxious before a big game or an important test can enhance your motivation and help you mentally prepare yourself. At its core, anxiety serves a protective function. It is our body’s alarm system, a construct of our fight-or-flight survival instinct. When this instinct spirals out of control, however, it can take over our lives and cause us to miss out on opportunities for growth.
In today’s world, where happiness is often tied to wealth, status, and popularity, anxiety has become the norm as a driving force to succeed. All of us, to some extent, are victims of internalized capitalism—we’ve been taught to believe that hard work equals happiness and individual success is the ultimate virtue. We feel guilty when we relax. We feel weak when we can’t handle massive workloads. And we are so plugged in all the time—inundated with constant distractions and notifications—that our brains are always buzzing internally. Put simply, none of us have time to slow down and smell the roses.
What’s more, the world of social media has taken our obsession with success to new lows. All of us fall prey to “compare-and-despair” culture—we see happy, beautiful people with their seemingly perfect lives all over social media. When we look at ourselves, we feel jealous and ashamed.
Little wonder, then, that anxiety disorders are so rampant in our society today. What was designed to protect us from harm is now inhibiting our growth and making us unhappy. Anxiety treatment is chance to slow down, de-stress, and get control of your symptoms so that you experience greater happiness in life.
Therapy Can Help You Uncover The Root Of Your Anxiety And Unlock Your Higher Self
No matter how confusing or uncontrollable your anxiety may feel, you are not crazy and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you. Anxiety is a normal and adaptive response to what your mind and body perceive as threatening. It can come from an interplay of genetics, situational stress, or unhealed insecurities and traumas that have built up in your nervous system over time.
My integrative treatment approach will help you not only develop coping skills, but also unpack and resolve the roots of your anxiety. This will allow you to experience sustainable peace in your body and mind. Here is how:
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) for Anxiety. SP focuses on how anxiety shows up not just in your thoughts but also in your body. Exploring patterns of tension, breathing, and heart rate can give you access to unhealed wounding experiences that contribute to your anxiety. For example, if you have a tendency to cower or freeze in the face of authority figures, mindfully exploring this physical tendency will uncover early memories of feeling criticized or unsafe around others. Together, will experiment with different postures and movements that release these feelings. For instance, if worrisome thoughts cause you to hold your breath and lose all sense of your lower body, we’ll practice grounding exercises that expand your breath and help you find your sense of footing.
As I guide you to mindfully engage these protective impulses, you may find that the act of completing them leads to a fresh sense of resolution and calm in your body. In this way, tracking physical tendencies and experimenting with different movements and postures can help you bypass your instinctive thoughts and get straight to the core
of your anxiety.
EMDR for Anxiety
In addition to looking at how anxiety manifests physically, I use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to alleviate its effects on your mind. During the EMDR process, I will ask you to notice the sensations, images, beliefs, and emotions related to your anxiety while I guide you through a series of gentle stimulation techniques (such as tapping or horizontal eye movements). These techniques will help your brain naturally move towards more adaptive thoughts and decrease the uncomfortable sensations associated with anxiety. Oftentimes, I may even integrate somatic interventions into the EMDR process to facilitate any stuck body sensations and work with the parts of yourself that have fears or conflicting feelings about letting go of the past.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) for Anxiety: IFS is a treatment based on the idea that your personality is comprised of different parts and each part has its own pattern of behavior and thinking. IFS views anxiety as an arrangement of fear-driven “parts” that are trying to help you in some way.
For instance, let’s say your anxious inner system is comprised of an inner Critic, Worrier, Avoidant, and People-Pleaser. In exploring their well-meaning but perhaps misguided attempts to help you, we learn that the Critic uses harsh language to push you to be the best version of yourself. The Avoidant protects you from attempting something you might fail at. The People-Pleaser protects you from rejection, while the Worrier helps you imagine unforeseen events so that you can prepare for the worst. As a system, the energy these parts create by working together can keep you in a chronic state of hyperarousal and fear. But by understanding and meeting the needs of all these parts, you can experience less internal conflict between all of them. This, in turn, will help you achieve emotional harmony and decrease your stress.
Together, these three treatment modalities can help you develop a kinder relationship to yourself, come up with new coping skills, and heal from past experiences that have built up in your nervous system. My goal is for you to experience a sense of ease in your mind and body and unlock new potential for growth.
You may have some concerns about anxiety treatment…
How do I know if I have anxiety?
Anxiety is your body’s natural stress response to any perceived threat. It can show up somatically (e.g., bodily tension, increased heart rate, or sweating) or in your thoughts. It’s normal to feel anxious when trying anything new, like moving to a new place or having a job interview. However, if you experience nightmares or panic attacks, struggle to control painful memories, or find yourself avoiding certain situations out of excessive fear or self-doubt, you may benefit from additional support.
What causes anxiety and how do you treat it?
Anxiety can be the result of unresolved trauma, genetics, brain chemistry, and situational stress. Depending on how disruptive anxiety is to your life, you may benefit from psychotherapy in tandem with medication for a period of time. Additionally, there are natural, non-medicative ways to treat anxiety, including exercise, spending time in nature, adaptogenic herbs, anti-inflammatory foods, and tending to hormonal imbalances.
I have friends and family I can talk to. Why do I need an anxiety counselor?
As well-meaning as friends and family often are, they don’t always give the greatest advice. Since they are part of your everyday life, they may have a personal stake in your outcomes and goals. As a therapist, I am trained to be transparent and careful about my biases so as to not create any undue influence. Rather than doling out advice, my intention is to help you get clear on what you’re thinking and feeling so that you can make your own decisions.
Anxiety Treatment Can Help You Achieve Peace In Your Body And Mind
Anxiety is a normal, human response to the hectic world we live in, but that doesn’t mean it has to control you. With the right support, you can release the grip that fear and self-doubt have on your life. To get started with anxiety treatment, you can email me to schedule a free, 20-minute video consultation.