How Do I Cope with the Anxiety of Getting Help?
By: Adriana Rivera, LPC
Anxiety is the gut feeling of something bad happening. It can go from as small as your heart racing when you feel potential danger to a full-on panic attack. It can be described as “preparing for the worst and expecting the best” to worrying excessively about something that may or may not happen. A common way to describe it would be the feeling of being crazy and/or feeling out of control.
Everyone has experienced anxiety at some point in their lives, but not everyone deals with it on a day to day basis. Anxiety is a reaction to the way we see things, the way we think, and the way we process information. It is the fight or flight response on steroids. The fight or flight response is a good thing and it is a primitive response to a harmful event. It protects you from danger and it helps you stay alive/stay out of trouble. However, when your brain continues to worry about something, that may or may not be dangerous, it goes from lifesaving to life crumbling.
For those who say that they haven’t experienced anxiety, let me paint this picture. Imagine riding a big roller coaster and it has a deep steep drop, there is a certain feeling of anticipation right before the drop, some sort of buildup when you know the drop is coming. Then as you are experiencing this drop, it may feel like your heart drops to your feet, some may even experience discomfort in their stomach. Anxiety is something like this, but this feeling is constant.
There is a lot of stigma associated with seeking mental health services or going to counseling. Some people see counseling as a sign of weakness. It can seem as it “being in your head” or you just choosing to feel anxious/nervous. Neither of these are true. Anxiety is not imagined or made up. It is as real as having diabetes or a heart condition. The only problem is that it is not seen, it is only felt by the person experiencing it. People close to those with anxiety will see some manifestations as well. As we get older, things that weren’t affecting us or things that we used to manage start to stress us out. This is normal, the more responsibility we have, the more stress we feel. The good news is that we can always learn skills to help us deal and manage anxiety.
- Be aware of negative self-talk: do not describe yourself as crazy, abnormal, or an overthinker. Just because you feel it, doesn’t mean that it is true. Be kind to yourself.
- Don’t own anxiety: anxiety isn’t a part of you and you aren’t anxiety. Anxiety is just something you deal with and with the proper help it will be something you manage.
- Don’t isolate yourself: you aren’t the only person dealing with anxiety. It may feel like everyone out there is mellow and can manage it, but we really don’t know what others are struggling with. If you haven’t learned the skills to manage it yet or the skills you used aren’t working anymore, it is not too late.
- Remember that anxiety is a reaction to stress. It may manifest with pains, stomach aches, ulcers, panic attacks and more. Help yourself by engaging in a physical activity, this will help your physical and emotional health.
- Give yourself permission to worry: instead of being upset because you can’t stop worrying. Give yourself permission to worry. Set up a time to think about whatever is worrying you. Instead of worrying during work hours, tell yourself, I am going to worry about this when I get home at 7 pm. It is best to process these thoughts than to try to push them back in your mind because if not it will resurface.
- Don’t keep things to yourself: some anxious thoughts are worse than others. It is helpful to transfer it from your mind onto something else. Acknowledging that something is bothering you is better than ignoring it. By writing it down you are giving yourself permission to leave it on the piece of paper and you know that you don’t have to hold onto it because it is already written somewhere. You no longer must carry this burden. You can choose to forget about it in the meantime and you can worry about it at the designated time.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help: sometimes we just need that extra help to get us through the rough patch. Acknowledging that you need help and getting it is a strength. It takes courage and assertiveness to decide to take the step to talk to someone.
There is already so much occupying your life, you should not worry about getting help. Anxiety does not need to be dealt with alone. Change, whether it is good or bad, can be scary, but change is necessary in order to grow.
Learn more or book a virtual session with Adriana Rivera at