It seems lately every time I tell someone I’m a therapist for anxiety, the response I get is: “You must be really busy!”

It’s true that recent statistics indicate more and more people are seeking therapy for anxiety. However, it can be easy to mistake common anxiety symptoms for standard, run-of-the-mill stress.

Therefore, it can be difficult to determine what is appropriate anxiety and what is the sign of a something more. Even more, anxiety impacts physical health, causing people to think their problems are physical not mental. Skin problems, GI distress, high blood pressure, and sore, aching muscles are often associated with anxiety which send people to the doctor when instead they should be going to a therapist for anxiety.

Here’s the thing: Anxiety is a normal part of life and a normal response to stress. It can be a good thing. If we didn’t have any anxiety, we wouldn’t be motivated to study for a test, prepare for that big presentation, or run from a bear!

But how do you know if you’re experiencing “normal” anxiety or unhealthy anxiety? Bottom-line: if you feel like anxiety is interfering with your life – whatever that may look like to you – that’s probably reason enough to meet with an anxiety therapist. If nothing else, to get some objective feedback.

Signs you may want to get a consultation for anxiety therapy:

  • You avoid going to certain events or activities because of anxious feelings.
  • You’re having difficulty falling or staying asleep because your mind is racing.
  • You’re often feel irritable and/or angry and blow up at others.
  • You’re constantly fatigued.
  • You find yourself often worried and struggle to control it.
  • You often feel edgy or amped for no apparent reason.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • How long have I been experiencing this high level of anxiety?
  • How much is it upsetting to me or causing me distress?
  • Is it starting to interfere with my daily life?
  • Do others in my life think I am too anxious?
  • Is my anxiety negatively affecting my relationships?

Here are few things you can do to self-manage stress and anxiety:

  • Exercise regularly to relieve tension, release endorphins and maintain physical health.
  • Practice being more mindful.
  • Challenge irrational thoughts that are creating anxiety and give them a more accurate and neutral, or even positive spin.
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing while focusing on your breath until the physical sensations of anxiety decrease in your body.
  • If possible, start working on the problem or task that is creating the anxiety. Break down the solution into small steps that can be worked on one at a time. This will increase the likelihood that you will follow through with the task or work on the problem.
  • Ask others for help with a problem that’s causing your anxiety. Or ask them for feedback on your thoughts to help determine if they are rational or irrational.

The longer anxiety symptoms are ignored, the worse they get. Furthermore, the harder it becomes manage. Anxiety is rooted in negative and irrational thoughts. The longer we think a certain way, we begin to create new patterns of thinking. And the longer our patterns of thinking have been established, the harder it becomes to change them.

Believe it or not, it can be easy to get used to anxiety and therefore hard to notice how big of a role it plays in your life. It’s important to step back and examine what type of accommodations you make to avoid anxiety or to consider how anxiety interferes with your everyday life.

Are you looking for help with anxiety? Contact us today for a free consultation.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists take control and move From Surviving to Thriving.