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managing my anxiety

 

anxiety takes different forms:

how it may look

Fear of or anxiety toward social or performance situations and interactions

how it may feel

Blushing, fast heartbeat, trembling, sweating, stomach issues, shortness of breath

common triggers

Meeting new people, speaking up in meetings, talking to people on the phone, 1:1 conversations, group presentations

how to cope

Practice grounding exercises and avoid negative coping strategies, such as heavy drinking, substance use, and avoidance. Take small steps to engage socially. Reframe your thoughts or distract yourself.

how it may look

Excessive anxiety or worry

how it may feel

Restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, GI problems

common triggers

They can look different for everyone. Take note of your unique triggers.

how to cope

Talk to someone and recruit support. Try mindfulness techniques and practice healthy behaviors (sleep, eat well, breathe). Seek out support and guidance when facing triggers head-on in order to reframe the situation and cope.

how it may look

Recurrent, sudden periods of intense fear

how it may feel

Heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath

common triggers

Major life transitions, perceived danger, traumatic events

how to cope

Learn about the triggers. Practice relaxation techniques and challenge your thoughts with mantras or distractions. Turn for support from those around you if you need help grounding yourself and reacclimating to your environment.

if it’s more than a bad day, talk to a professional

If underneath your calm exterior, you are persistently feeling anxious or worried, additional support can help. A therapist may be able to help you manage triggers and symptoms. Doctors may be able to rule out underlying medical conditions contributing to anxiety symptoms. Psychiatrists and doctors may also prescribe medication to help manage your mental health. 

where to look:

    1. Ask for recommendations from friends and family if you feel comfortable, or ask for a referral from your primary care physician.
    2. Check out your insurance provider’s “Find a Doctor” tool, lists from Psychology Today, or use your workplace’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if applicable.
    3. Consider community health centers, which often provide free or low-cost services.
    4. Look into local universities or graduate programs: some university clinics or centers are open to the public on a sliding scale or financial assistance program.
    5. Seek out text-based or online therapy options, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    6. In an emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text BRAVE to 741-741.

other tips:

  1. Affordability: Psychiatrists are generally the priciest option and the hardest to find. Patients may go to a psychiatrist on occasion for prescriptions and a more affordable and accessible type of provider for therapy. Psychologists and social workers are both trained to treat anxiety and may use several different forms of therapy.
  2. Licensing: Make sure that your practitioner is licensed in the state you are requesting care from. You may also check to see if your therapist is a members of a professional organization, such as APA,ADAA, or the National Association of Social Workers. 
  3. Meet-and-greets: When you’ve found someone promising, request an informational phone call or a meet-and-greet before you dive into therapy sessions. If it feels less intimidating, try sending an email to schedule a phone call.
  4. What to ask: 
    Have they treated other patients with your particular issues?
    How would they go about determining how to treat you?
    Is there evidence for that approach?
    What licenses and certifications do they have?

    more questions to ask


    What is their expertise or specialty?
    What is their general approach for helping clients?
    What can you expect during each session?
    How long will it take?
    How will you both know when you’re done?
    Can they offer consistent weekly appointments and do they offer evening or weekend appointments?
    Will they accept your insurance (if applicable)?
    Do they offer a sliding scale or financial assistance?
    Are they affiliated with any prominent psychological associations (American Psychological Association, Eastern Psychological Association or the National Association of Social Workers, etc)?

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Ideally, you’ll meet with a couple of therapists and then pick the best fit. It’s important that you can be open and honest with your therapist and that they respect you. Don’t be discouraged if the first option doesn’t work out: finding a therapist is like trying to find a partner or that perfect pair of jeans!

To tell or not to tell:

You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. It’s your story and you only need to share if it’s in service to your needs.

However, talking to close friends, mentors, or family members you trust can allow you to talk freely about your medication or appointments as you would like to. Sharing what you are going through may also make it clear why you don’t want to go out or talk much from time to time. It may also help mend and improve any relationships that have been affected by mental health struggles.

 

Steps:

  1. Pick a friend, mentor, or family member you trust as the first person you tell. 
  2. Choose a time and place where you will both feel comfortable. 
  3. Let them know you are struggling and that you need to talk to someone. Share the V-A-R tool or that you just need a listening ear, if needed. The person’s first inclination may be to problem-solve. It is OK to say that you just need someone to listen. 
  4. It may feel awkward. That’s OK. You’re doing the right thing.
  5. Reassure them and yourself: it’s okay to not be okay.

 

don’t gaslight a friend with anxiety

Don’t try to “fix” the issue or rush to solutions.

Seek first to understand instead of judging them.

Hear them out before using your own experience to relate to them.

Avoid saying it’s not that bad or “At least….”

Use Active Minds’ easy V-A-R steps: Validate-Appreciate-Refer.

additional resources

understanding our stress & anxiety

spread awareness about stress & anxiety

check in on someone using V-A-R

hotlines

Text “Brave” to 741-741 to the Crisis Text Line or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Both provide free, 24/7 support.

referral resources

get help cards

Four postcard-sized, takeaway cards with helpful messages of support and suggested resource.

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