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Anxiety: The Monster Underneath My Bed

Author : Maricruz Ferrari LCSW

He walked into my office with exhaustion written all over his face, a slow speech pattern and a low tone of voice. He seemed defeated, tired of fighting the same demon again and again. He planted himself on the seat in front of me and looked straight at the floor. We had a few sessions prior, and I was starting to get acquainted with the source of his anxiety. He was full of talents and enamored by the arts. More than anything, he wanted to try to quiet his mind long enough to be able to work peacefully on his projects. He had been fighting anxiety demons for a long time on his own, and he finally decided to try something new. So here he was, trying something new with me, talking it out, coming up with new battle strategies. He was learning that fighting bad habits was not easy, but it was doable if you were determined enough.

I decided to start our session differently. Mindfulness was in the air, and the situation called for an exercise to calm the mind and the body. He reluctantly agreed. I told him I didn’t want him to think about anything specific, but to try to concentrate on a progressive muscle relaxation exercise to decrease the tension. If you have never tried progressive muscle relaxation, you might want to include it in your box of tools to relax. It is simple, beautiful and practical. I’ll tell you; briefly, it is a technique in which you tense groups of muscles in your body as you breathe in and relax them as you breathe out. This method is often used to help people with anxiety, pain, stress and other health issues.

As we approached the end of the exercise, I noticed a faint smile on his face. It was really faint, but a smile after all. I knew it had worked, his body and mind had a moment of respite. When you are a slave to anxiety, it is pure bliss when you get a break from the shackles of emotional pain, even if it is for a short period of time. He opened his eyes, and they were full of peace and serenity. I proceeded to ask him to recount the good things that happened during the week. He was eager to share his accomplishments as well as his obstacles.
We both knew things were getting better, but it would take consistent work to squash the monster underneath his bed.

Throughout the years I have worked with many patients with anxiety. Each of them has taught me how powerful the mind is. It can bring you to your knees in emotional pain, but it can also lift you up and give you the hope you need to keep moving forward. When anxiety becomes part of your daily life and living with uncertainty is the norm, it takes recalibrating and resetting your thought process to change behavioral patterns. Your thoughts have to adjust for your body and emotions to change too.

People who struggle with anxiety are no strangers to excessive worry, fear, fatigue, palpitations, trembling, shortness of breath, restlessness, irritability, to name a few. Not easy living life in a constant state of impending doom. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, some people will need psychiatric help and medication management. Others will benefit from simpler or more holistic approaches. Whatever your situation is, you don’t have to live life in a state of anguish, and you don’t have to feel alone. Life is beautiful, and there are many ways to help those who want to be helped.

Here are some simple techniques that you can practice on your own to help your anxiety:

1) Practice deep breathing as it is a powerful strategy that triggers the relaxation response in your body.

2) Challenge your thoughts by asking yourself if your worries are realistic and likely to happen. Oftentimes, anxiety can create outlandish thoughts that are easily squashed once you challenge them.

3) Accept that anxiety is going through you and remind yourself that it will eventually cease as it has done before.

4) Use positive affirmations and positive self-talk. Anxiety produces negative conversations in your head. Try redirecting those negative thoughts with positive statements.

5) Focus on activities that distract you. Sitting around obsessing over fears and anxious thoughts will only exacerbate the situation. Following through with activities, even when you don’t feel like it, could decrease anxiety and give you a break when you least expect it.

6) Exercise is a way to relieve tension and stress while promoting relaxation and health.

Like most goals in life, you will have to stick to a plan to see progress. The same goes for anxiety. Once you identify it’s an issue in your life, reach out for help, set a goal and stay consistent. I promise positive changes will come your way!

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Maricruz Ferrari is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in healthcare for multiple years. During her career, she has provided supportive services to people struggling with multiple psychosocial stressors, including mental health issues. Although mental health awareness has grown throughout the last decades, there are still many individuals that are unable to access the right services. Maricruz’s purpose is to help those in need have a better quality of life by showing them effective ways to cope with their struggles.

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Tags:   anxiety, self-care, coping skills, mental health, behavioral health, emotional struggle, self-help

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Submitted : 2019-03-07    Word Count : 819    Times Viewed: 1324