by Jessica Smith, LCPC
Hello friends, I’m Jess! For my first ever blogging attempt (woohoo!), I thought I’d take some time to talk to you about anxiety. The dreaded, sometimes overwhelming anxiety.
If I asked a room full of people (pre-COVID times of course!) how many have ever experienced anxiety, I bet every single person would raise their hand. That’s because anxiety is a normal part of life. We sometimes use other terms to describe it, such as stress, “freaking out,” worry, or tension. But what is it?
Everyone experiences anxiety differently, and the symptom list can go on and on. If you’ve ever felt your heart beating out of your chest, had trouble sleeping (I know this one all too well myself!), had sweaty palms, or even upset stomach, you may be experiencing some anxiety. Anxiety can also cause tremors, racing thoughts, panic attacks, trouble concentrating, and poor decision-making.
Where does anxiety come from? Anxiety is defined by the Merriam-Webster as: apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill. In other words, anxiety stems from fear of the unknown. And unfortunately, as humans, most of us tend to anticipate the unknown with unrealistic, negative thoughts.
According to CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), anxiety is caused by these negative thoughts, and they lead us to feel negative emotions like anger, insecurity, or guilt, for example. We then act based on these negative emotions, typically in maladaptive ways, and have to suffer the consequences.
But the good news is, according to the CBT model, we can learn to change our thoughts, which in turn helps us feel better and even act more appropriately.
I love working with my clients through the CBT lens because I truly believe it gives us back the power to control our minds when they sometimes go haywire! Anxiety is tough, but it does not have to define us or dictate our lives! If you struggle with anxiety or you’re simply ready to learn more about this exciting therapy approach, stay tuned!
Up Next: What Our Negative Thoughts (or Cognitive Distortions) Look Like