Your question: Why is my anxiety through the roof?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. Feeling anxiety is quite normal, but it is an unpleasant experience that can make you feel that you are losing control of your life and that you can no longer cope with a specific situation.

Anxiety is a natural feeling that we will all experience at certain times in our lives. It occurs when we feel that external demands, such as work, college, family and so on, overwhelm our coping strategies. Anxiety becomes a warning sign when it is too frequent and too intense. If this is your case, then it is time to seek help.

When you say that your anxiety is “through the roof” you probably mean that you are at your limit point, as the anxious episodes have become too frequent and intense to manage on your own. This is a problem because anxiety wears down our mind and body. It is an imbalance of our body.

When we feel anxious our body becomes dysregulated, so we feel unpleasant physical sensations such as tachycardia, rapid breathing, sweating, stomach pain and tingling in the body. And we also feel that our emotions get out of control: we want to cry intensely, we feel intense fear, we may also experience anger and helplessness (1).

Despite your subjective feeling of anxiety, the truth is that with the necessary help, you will have the tools to cope with your anxiety.

Learn and understand your anxiety

Have you ever heard the saying that we must know our enemy in order to defeat them? Well, it’s quite true. The case with anxiety is the same. If you don’t understand the etiology of your anxious episodes it will be impossible to deal with the associated unpleasant symptoms.

One exercise you can do at home is called “panic diary”(2). Basically, it consists of writing down in a notebook the situations that make you anxious, detailing what physical and emotional sensations the specific situation caused you.

It is important that you write down all the details related to the anxiety episode, as well as the time of day it occurred. This will help you to know in which area of your life the most anxious episodes converge, and thus address this as a priority. It may be your job, it may be household chores or a relationship. Whatever your case, the diary will not lie, and will tell you how, when and where to start working.

Guided Imagery

When you identify the areas of your life that cause you the most anxiety, it’s time to act. There are different strategies you can employ to manage anxiety, no matter where it comes from. One of my favorites is called “guided imagery”(3). In this exercise, in addition to inhaling and exhaling slowly, you will close your eyes, and visualize a scenario that generates calm and happiness, and distracts you from the negative thoughts that come with anxiety. It can be a beach, a mountainous landscape or even a pleasant memory.

This technique takes time and training, so don’t worry if you initially feel that it doesn’t work for you. You need to be patient and try to vary the relaxing mental scenarios so that you don’t get “bored” and it loses its effect. A recommendation would be to look at pictures of landscapes until you find one that you like. You could even print it and watch it until you draw it in your mind when you close your eyes.

In my experience…

The feeling of anxiety “through the roof” is common, because anxiety makes your mind and body feel in a overwhelmed state of exhaustion and fatigue. Although the symptoms of anxiety are generally harmless, you must work on them to regulate them and prevent them from impairing your daily life.

I hope that with these suggestions you can improve. I recognize and applaud you for seeking professional counseling, because it shows that you want to feel better and you are on the right path to change the things that make you feel bad. I believe that we all have the capacity to improve, although sometimes our mind makes us believe that we have no solution. Apply the techniques at your own pace and I am confident that you will gradually improve. It was a pleasure to write to you.

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