Living with anxiety can be such a tough road- you are scared and rationally you know you shouldn’t be, but you are. Your body, which is likely jittery and wired and humming from the inside-out, is telling you something is wrong and your brain is going over and over the same thoughts and concerns. The tension grows as you want to get a handle on your worries, but you somehow can’t.
According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), there are different forms of anxiety. People can be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which means they worry a lot, about most everything. Folks with GAD remember being a worry-wart from way back; they know anxiety is in their DNA. Then there is Specific Phobia. Afraid of spiders or flying or the water? If your anxiety around something very specific really impacts your life, you might be diagnosed with Specific Phobia. What about anxiety around other people? Have a hard time being in crowds or at parties? Does the thought of making a fool of yourself keep you from being around people? That’s definitely Social Anxiety. And the list goes on: Separation Anxiety, Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder, and the rest.
One of the best ways to think about anxiety is like this: when something is happening in your life that isn’t lined up with how you want it to be, anxiety can show up. It’s like a barometer for our lives: worried about your kids? How’s your parenting going? Maybe some changes in your approach or perspective could help. Anxious about the future? Are you living in the present day in a way that aligns with your values, and how you want your future to be? That niggling anxiety may be trying to tell you something, if you stop and listen for a bit.
Lots of therapists will work with anxiety from a cognitive-behavioral approach, meaning that the therapist will help you look at the thoughts you have, how you can change those thoughts, and how changing the thoughts can help you change your behavior. Although that’s one approach, my bias is that if we only needed to “think” our way out of something difficult in our lives, we would have done it by now! We have these big human brains with lots of cognitive capacity, and if thinking was the only skill we needed, we certainly wouldn’t struggle after thinking a bit about our problems. Maybe we need more than just thinking?
I like to work with anxiety by looking at the dynamics of our bodies. Where does that anxiety live inside you? Do you get a tight chest, or feel pressure somewhere? Do your eyes get squinty or maybe you get a headache when you’re anxious? Using a body-centered approach, I like to get really curious with my clients about how their body holds their anxiety. Once connected to the body, I use certain techniques, including EMDR, to help a client to track and release the sensations that go along with the anxiety, as well as gain a deeper understanding as to why the anxiety is showing up. In my experience, slowing down the thoughts and joining with the body allows people to connect to their experience in a deep and profound way, feel more stable, and ultimately release the anxiety in a body-based way. This approach doesn’t mean that your anxiety will never show up again, but it does help you “be with” your anxiety in a very different way, and one that allows you to feel you more connected and less on a hamster wheel of thought!
If you want to know more about how I work with anxiety, feel free to call or text at 805-223-5219, or email me at Jeanlampert@gmail.com