Christian Counselor Seattle
Severe anxiety is deeply rooted in our unconscious mind, often due to chronic stress or trauma. Think of our brain as a computer and our stressors as open tabs. How many tabs do we have running in the background? This can lead to bouts of severe anxiety that interferes with our daily life and relationships.
Causes of severe anxiety.
Severe anxiety can stem from physical and emotional abuse or trauma experienced as a child or teen. Unconsciously, we try to bury the trauma so we can move forward, but it is always in the back of our mind. Without proper therapy and processing of the event, anxiety can develop.
Certain personality types are more likely to develop anxiety when under great stress. Type A personalities can be particularly prone to anxiety. The need to take control of situations, to be perfectionists, and having a high-strung way of relating to others, all lead to added stress.
Ongoing situational stress can also lead to severe anxiety. A family member with a chronic or terminal illness, complicated grief, a toxic relationship or home environment, low morale at work, or financial problems can keep a steady stream of stress hormones circulating through the body.
When stress hormones stay high for an extended period, they can lead to medical conditions such as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation damages cells in the body and can eventually lead to serious diseases like cancer or Type II diabetes.
If you believe you have severe anxiety, speak to your doctor about performing lab tests to rule out any physical conditions. A counselor can help you identify the triggers causing your anxiety and help you manage your stress. He or she can also show you how to avoid and cope with panic attacks which may happen more often with severe anxiety.
Tips for easing severe anxiety.
Do you feel like you are constantly in a state of high anxiety? Or do you have sudden, severe anxiety attacks? Either way, the following tips could help you ease your anxiety. The key is to notice when you feel your stress taking over and heed its call to pause.
You may need to leave the room or find someplace quiet to sit. This is because your senses are in overdrive, yet the overwhelming sensation is focused inwardly. If you are like some people, you can be surrounded by people and noise, yet your anxiety will make you feel like you are not really in the room. Grounding yourself in reality and staying present can help ease anxiety symptoms.
Prayer and worship.
As we focus on our worries and fears, we pull that energy inward. But if we shift our focus toward God in prayer and worship, it can lessen anxiety’s effect on us. Have you ever prayed from a place deep in your soul? Have you prayed from a broken place that only God could see and understand?
This place of prayer and worship helps to cleanse us, releasing tension and stress. The Bible mentions many instances when people went into a quiet place to pray. They shut the door from all distractions. Choose a place away from others, if possible, to cry out to God. Allow God’s spirit to move and ease your nerves. Your circumstances may not change at that moment, but your perspective just might!
Share with others.
As tensions build, we often believe we can handle them independently. We prefer to keep our business to ourselves. But sharing a burden alleviates the heaviness from our shoulders and allows a trusted friend to walk through the fire with us.
During the pandemic, as more people were quarantined or locked down, it became almost normal to suffer in silence. But it is unhealthy to have no one to whom you can turn to when dealing with severe anxiety. If you do not have someone in whom you can confide, consider reaching out to a Christian counselor.
Journal thoughts and emotions.
When we hold our worries and frustrations inside, they may simmer quietly. But eventually, those same worries will manifest into physical and mental conditions. Consider starting a journal. A journal is an excellent place to dump all your concerns, fears, frustrations, and hurts. It is a safe place to expose our feelings.
Many people find the traditional pen and paper method beneficial as the act of writing is cathartic. It also gives our minds time to process our thoughts and emotions. When we analyze these thoughts, we can sometimes see a pattern of emotions and behaviors. Once we learn our triggers, we can change, manage, or avoid them. The act of writing also shifts the stress from ourselves to the page, leaving us feeling a little lighter.
Burn off frustrations.
A quick way to burn off frustrations is with a workout. Exercise increases your heart rate and oxygenates our blood. When we exercise, we give our brain and mood a boost. In addition, our muscles release tension after a sweaty workout session. We feel better about ourselves and our lives, due to the endorphins released during exercise.
Try a heart-pumping exercise like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), running, or circuit training. This exercise forces your heart to beat faster for short periods and recover before repeating the circuit. It improves your cardiorespiratory system, making it easier to breathe deeply.
Placing yourself in the presence of beauty is another way to realign our hearts to God. Going on even a short hike in the Pacific Northwest, where beauty is found in every scenic mountain and lake, can help us transcend the anxiety of society and the difficulty of living in a fallen world.
Distract your mind.
Sometimes we need a distraction. Doing something we love causes a spike in the region of the brain that controls pleasure. The brain recognizes the behavioral pattern and rewards us with a dopamine release. Dopamine and other hormones leave us feeling relaxed and happy.
When we are seriously stressed over long periods of time, we tend to forget what we even enjoyed doing when life was good or less stressful. We all need to take time to reconnect with our hearts to see what makes us come alive. Is it drawing? Is it hiking? Is it crafting or making things? Maybe it is reading adventure novels. Maybe you have an idea for a new adventure of your own.
Try rereading an entertaining novel, watching a favorite television show or movie, or engaging in another hobby. Distract yourself from your worries and take advantage of a familiar and comforting activity. By repeating an activity that you associate with a fond memory or happy time in your life, your mind takes a short vacation from the stress. It is a temporary relief but is needed. Permit yourself to check out for a little while for your mental health.
Practice grounding using your senses.
Has your severe anxiety left you feeling paralyzed emotionally? Do you sometimes freeze up when overwhelmed? You can use your five senses to practice grounding yourself back into reality.
You will need a moment to gather yourself and take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. First, look around the room and name five objects that you see. For example, scan the room, then name things like a red coffee mug, a painting of sea turtles, a favorite book, a glass paperweight, and a pink sheet of paper.
Second, reach out and touch four things, feeling their textures. You could feel the fleece blanket beside you, the shirt you are wearing, the carpet, and the stainless-steel Thermos, noting how each one feels against your skin.
Next, close your eyes, tune everything out, and focus on hearing three distinct sounds. For example, you might listen to the ticking of the wall clock, the wind beating against a window, and birds chirping.
Then, inhale through your nose. What do you smell? Name the scents. Force yourself to identify each one, like the pumpkin spice air freshener and the brewed coffee in your mug. Last, focus on the taste in your mouth. You may taste your toothpaste from earlier.
By engaging all five senses, you pull yourself back into the present. This method can also help you during a panic attack which can occur with severe anxiety.
Is your anxiety getting out of hand?
Anxiety can lead to chronic health problems and relationship issues. If you have severe anxiety, consider speaking to a Christian counselor about managing your stress. At the very least you will learn coping mechanisms to help lessen the anxiety and move forward with your life.
At most, you will learn to understand yourself better, what triggers you into high gear, and why. Understanding ourselves better can unlock the keys to a less stressful life as we learn to work with ourselves better. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call and work with a counselor to help you through your anxiety.
“Anxiety”, Courtesy of Wokandapix, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Relaxing”, Courtesy of Alena Shekhovtcova, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Box Jumps”, Courtesy of Li Sun, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Backpack Adventure”, Courtesy of Oziel Gomez, Pexels.com, CC0 License
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