Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are two of the biggest triggers for mental health disorders and physical ailments. Stress involves a disruption to your mind, body, and spirit that interferes with your routines, relationships, and opportunities. Stress affects your mental, physical, and emotional responses to such a degree that you have trouble functioning.

Anxiety is an emotional response to a perceived imminent threat. It often manifests in physical symptoms, and it is common for us to begrudge the connection between those symptoms and our anxiety. Anxiety stems from lack of control. It's a threat response. It’s a natural reaction to living with powerlessness.

We will work on identifying areas of your life in which you feel powerless, and those in which you are not powerless. The prospect of taking control may seem overwhelming right now, but we will take things step by step. This will reduce both your anxiety and your stress level. My clinical approach assumes that you are doing the best you can AND you need to learn new ways of doing things so you’ll feel better. Those two things can both be true.

Acknowledging Problems

Man stands with his hands clasped on top of his head, eyes down and head bowed, on a sunny day.

Stress Pain Points

  • You're hard on yourself.

  • It’s hard making friends.

  • Emotions get the best of you.

  • You don’t sleep well.

  • You are in a constant state of exhaustion.

  • People take advantage of you.

  • Your responsibilities are overwhelming.

  • You can’t get out from under your debts.

  • You have trouble making decisions.

  • You know what your goals should be but you can’t seem to get started.

  • You feel unloved.

  • You feel unloveable.

  • You don’t understand what’s expected of you.

  • You have no time to relax.

  • Feelings of guilt or shame inhibit your relationships.

  • Sometimes it’s easier to go back to bed.

  • You get sick frequently.

  • You’ve stopped being able to distinguish between emotional pain and physical pain.

  • You don't believe in yourself.

  • You have headaches more days than not.

  • Your chest feels tight all the time, but your doctor says there’s no physical cause.

  • You have a hard time expressing yourself.

  • You either have too much energy or no energy at all.

  • You feel uncoordinated and off-balance.

  • When you go food shopping, comfort foods make up at least 20% of your haul.

  • You feel like you can’t be yourself.

  • People tell you that you get in your own way.

  • You feel disorganized.

  • You feel out of sync.

  • You aren't sure who you are.

Woman bent over a desk in front of a computer writing out post-it notes.

Anxiety Pain Points

  • Your body feels tense all the time

  • You feel like your gut is in your throat.

  • You fear what will happen if you speak up for yourself.

  • You worry about what will become of you

  • Everyone you trust lets you down.

  • Hygiene just doesn’t seem as important.

  • You’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  • You feel like life is happening to you, not for you.

  • You’re uncomfortable letting other people tell you what to do, but you let them do it anyway.

  • There are people in your life who stress you out or drain you but you don’t know what to do about it.

  • Your thoughts are racing and it’s hard to pay attention.

  • You’re always looking up your symptoms on the internet,

  • You make the same mistakes over and over.

  • It’s impossible to plan ahead.

  • You don’t know what to do when your heart starts racing.

  • You avoid confrontation.

  • You feel foolish making suggestions.

  • You have a lot of digestive issues with no medical diagnosis that explains them.

  • You find it hard to focus.

  • You have panic attacks.

  • You decline projects you’re interested in.

  • Job interviews freak you out.

  • You have trouble seeing the big picture.

  • You procrastinate a lot.

  • No one knows what it’s like to be you.

  • People don’t live up to your expectations.

  • You don’t think you’ll ever reach your goals.

  • You don’t follow the rules because they don’t make sense.

  • You have trouble saying no.

  • You don't know how to love yourself.

When life seems unduly stressful or we are always in a heightened state of anxiety, it is natural to feel victimized, angry, or resentful. It doesn’t seem fair that some of us have a tougher time of it than others. We want things to change but we don’t always want to be the ones to do the changing. I’ll let you in on a not-so-well-guarded secret: The only thing you can change is yourself. Staying in the headspace of victim mentality means we do not have to change, and that’s how a lot of us get stuck. But you do not have to live your life feeling stuck or trapped or limited. We may not have the options we want, but we always have more choices than we think we do.

Exploring Solutions

Person's hands planting a young leafy plant in the dirt.

I will guide you through making manageable changes by helping you recognize the things you can change, and work with you on changing your relationship with the things you cannot change. For many people, the suggestion of change is a put-up-your-dukes word - it feels like a personal attack. Honestly, it’s just the opposite. There’s a reason why change is the focus of so many hashtags. That reason is summed up in the adage, If nothing changes, nothing changes.

#changeyourlife #changeyourmindset #changeyourthoughts #changethenarrative #changeyourthoughts #changeisgood #changeyourworld #changestartswithyou #changemylife #changeyourperspective #changeyourlifestyle #changeyourhabits #changeispossible #changeandgrow #bethechange #changeitup

When you realize how much time and energy it sucks out of your life to be in a constant state of stress and anxiety, you may want to give change a try..

If you’ve suffered from stress and anxiety for a while, you may have been exposed to a lot of therapeutic strategies. You may have tried and rejected some of them. But these strategies are not likely to be effective unless you start practicing them daily to build up the automaticity. Automaticity is a quality that our behavior develops when we do it so often that it becomes effortless - automatic. You probably know that when we do not use our muscles, they become weak, tight, and painful, and we eventually stop being able to do the things we want to do. Skills work the same way, all kinds of skills - soft skills, hard skills, personal skills, interpersonal skills, professional skills, leisure skills, and even life skills.

If you’ve been through therapy before, either inpatient or outpatient, and you feel like you’ve learned whole bunches of skills, but the knowledge just doesn’t take, let me ask you this: Are you applying those skills in your day-to-day real life outside of therapy? If you can’t honestly say yes to that question, then you haven’t learned those skills - you’ve read about those skills. When we say we are skilled at something, it means we can do that thing independently. We can perform that skill and we can create new skills based on that skill.Learning expert and professor of educational psychology Mary Driscoll defined learning as ““a persisting change in human performance or performance potential. . . . as a result of the learner’s experience and interaction with the world” (Driscoll, 2009, p.5). In that context, learning involves doing. In discussing how we manifest our values in our actions, Positive Psychology expert Hugo Alberts points out that identifying our strengths allows us to translate our values into concrete behavior. That’s why I take a strength=based approach. Think you don’t have any strengths? Sure you do. I will help you figure out what they are and build on them. If that’s not you, because you already know your strengths but can’t seem to get them working on your behalf, I will help you lay them out and implement them to serve your priorities.

If you’ve had trouble changing on your own, and if you feel like you aren’t tapping into your potential, I can give you the tools and encouragement you need. I will listen, I will prompt, I will nudge, and I will give you feedback. I will give you solutions, and I will support you in the process of getting used to implementing them.

My Eight Tenets of Recovery

Becoming a lifelong learner.
Developing inner awareness about outward behaviors.
Realizing that acceptance is the antidote to most discomforts.
Nurturing an ability to notice the little things.
Embracing a sense of appreciation.
Recognizing bountiful opportunities to be useful.
Committing to a principled life.
Finding peace of mind.