Others say you should just accept things as they are. But how? That seems impossible. You can’t stop analyzing. How did I get here? Why are things the way they are? Sometimes, thoughts race through your head a million miles a minute. Even though you try hard to relax, they just won’t quit. The days seem so long when you can’t calm down and rest for a minute. It may feel like obsessive worry plagues every aspect of your life, from work stress to dating anxiety to your own perfectionism and low self-confidence.
You want to handle life’s inevitable curve balls and challenges with grace, without going into anxious spirals. Maybe you wonder, why can’t I be like people who seem to let it roll off their backs? Or roll with the punches?
As women, we face many hurdles in life and it can often feed like to much to manage, resulting in anxious thoughts. In fact, women are much more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than men.
Understanding the signs that your anxiety is present and the triggers for your anxiety can help you manage the symptoms so you can more freely live your life.
Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder
The Fear of Losing Control
Anxiety and control go hand in hand. If I can just figure this out, I can keep it from happening again. Perhaps you feel a need for more control of your environment, events or situations – that maybe if you had more control, you would be safer or able to prevent negative things from happening. But when you think back, this hasn’t been the case. In the big picture, it doesn’t work. However, logic doesn’t stop the thoughts from coming back over and over.
Perfectionism is another result of anxiety that you may be familiar with. In fact, perfectionism has been directly linked to anxiety among other mental health disorders.
What if I’m not the best? If I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all. I need to prove myself. Run faster. Try harder. So you push yourself to the limit. And scrutinize every detail of your performance. As a result of not being your own or others’ idea of “perfect,” you might feel more anxious, angry with yourself, down, or have lower self-esteem. Maybe your perfectionism and dating anxiety has hindered you from making the next move to pursue a relationship.
The truth is that no one can perform perfectly all of the time. Once you are able to recognize and change perfectionistic patterns of thinking and behaving, you can begin to loosen the harsh rules you have for yourself and begin to accomplish tasks more healthily.
Another attempt to manage anxiety, people-pleasing, plagues many anxious women. It can cause you to become obsessed with what others think of you. Perhaps you’ve become hyper-sensitive to others’ needs and desires, catering to them so that they won’t reject you. If this is the case, you may be able to think of times when your relationships were one-sided with a focus on the other partner.
It’s a fact of life that no matter how hard you try, you can’t control others’ opinions of you or ultimately how others will treat you. However, you can learn to take the energy you put into trying to please others and use it to care for yourself and improve your own life.
Physical Manifestations of Anxiety
Anxiety is a reflection of an overactive nervous system. On top of the crippling thoughts caused by anxiety, you may find your body reacting in certain ways when you feel anxious. Our bodies react to times of high stress, which can cause physical symptoms that might make you feel even worse. Increased heart rate, rapid breathing, feeling tired or weak, stomach issues, sweating, and shaking are all common signs of an anxiety disorder.
Understanding the Triggers for Your Anxiety
Anxiety can be caused by a variety of life events including verbal, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or trauma, loss of a loved one, relationship issues, moving, changing jobs, work stress, pregnancy, or childbirth. However, triggers are common occurrences that can worsen your anxiety symptoms. Knowing what triggers you can help your anxiety become more manageable. Some triggers can even be avoided entirely. Here are some examples of anxiety triggers:
Coffee, soda, tea, or other heavily caffeinated drinks can cause your body to increase levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This may make some people feel an increase in panic or anxiety.
- Crowded or Loud Environments
For some individuals struggling with anxiety, the chaos and noise of a large event or crowded place can increase uneasy and anxious feelings.
You might think that alcohol will help you relax, but in the long run it can actually worsen your anxiety symptoms. Drinking alcohol can cause alcohol-induced anxiety that lasts for hours up to days. Furthermore, alcohol can become an unhealthy coping mechanism.
- Health Problems
Health struggles such as chronic illness or a new diagnosis can cause an increase in anxiety. Being proactive with your physical and mental health care can help you to combat this.
- Certain Supplements or Medications
Everyone’s body is different, but for some, certain supplements or medications can make anxiety disorders worsen. Some examples include weight loss supplements high in caffeine, birth control, and cough or congestion medications.
- Poor Nutrition
Skipping meals or eating an excessive amount of sugary or processed foods can make you feel jittery or cause blood sugar to drop or spike. As a result, you might experience feelings of panic. Keep healthy high-protein snacks within reach to avoid this.
Relationship & Dating Anxiety
Anxiety can take up so much of your energy that you don’t have enough left for relationships – not much left for times you would enjoy if you weren’t swallowed up by all this.
On top of that, dating anxiety may hold you back from even trying to meet someone or pursue a relationship. As you begin to overcome your anxiety and take your life back, you will eventually come to a place where you can open up to having a healthy relationship with a partner.
Approaches to Overcoming Anxiety
We all have regrets about the past, and uncertainty about the future. But with anxiety, you can get stuck there. And these thoughts keep you from being present in the moment and enjoying your life. The chatter in your mind distracts you to the point that you’re checked out.
You’ve probably heard the term mindfulness a lot recently. On websites. In books. So many people use this term, but what does it really mean? Mindfulness involves intentionally focusing on what’s here right now. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not in 5 minutes. When you focus on the present moment, the worries of the future and the pain of the past can no longer cloud your state of mind.
In therapy together, we will discuss ways that you can bring mindfulness and other grounding techniques into your life to support your success in overcoming anxiety.
Let’s Take A Closer Look
Right now, I want you to begin to consider that there may be a specific reason or multiple reasons why you are suffering from anxiety. There is a way out. By learning about yourself and validating your experiences through therapy, you can begin to make real changes in the patterns that currently rule your life.
The mind, heart, and body are linked in amazing ways. As we explore relevant science, we’ll discover and heal all of the parts of you so you can feel whole – even the parts that may bring about feelings of shame, inadequacy, guilt, or pain that you want to hide and sweep to the side.
You Don’t Have to Do This Alone
In therapy, I can help you find ways to calm your nervous system and take in what’s actually happening. We’ll sort out truth from lies, so you can find clarity. We can pinpoint specific triggers for your anxiety and ways you can avoid or cope with them in a healthy way.
Let’s see you winning over anxiety. Let’s beat it together. You deserve it. You don’t have to keep suffering. You can overcome dating anxiety, people-pleasing, perfectionism, and low self-esteem. You can start saying I’ve got this. Contact me today so we can connect for a free phone consultation.
Early life experiences can lead to symptoms of anxiety. It is often closely connected to childhood sexual abuse. Learn more about the path to healing from the trauma of sexual abuse.
Serving women throughout California and specializing in relationships, self-esteem, and trauma, Encino therapist Kirstin Carl is here to help you improve your mental health and find the fulfilling love life you’ve been looking for. Whether you are working through anxiety or depression, healing from childhood trauma or toxic relationships, or trying to figure out how to boost your self-confidence, Kirstin is here to take the next step with you.