Anxiety is the primary symptom/diagnosis that I treat at Benhaven Counseling. Anxiety is tricky, it can be insidious. It can be constant and is something that feeds on self-doubt– and it loves to stick around for as long as it can. Today’s blog will address anxiety and offer tips for managing it.

We all have some degree of anxiety in our lives, and while some have more than others, anxiety dictates how some people manage their lives. It can cause us to overthink, doubt, be consumed in self-loathing behavior, be sleep deprived, isolated, and worried– it can plain disrupt your life. There are some good forms of anxiety, but today, we are going to talk about the bad types of anxiety and what you can do about it.

We’re headed into Fall and that means ’tis the season for gatherings and get-togethers! Sounds exciting, right? Maybe, but not for those who have anxiety. The family gatherings, parties, and “Friendsgiving” celebrations can be intimidating and downright scary.

For someone with anxiety, heading out to a gathering, no matter what the size can be a huge burden. Anxiety might say to you, “I don’t know the people there, what if I say something stupid?” ” What if I don’t know what to say?” “What if they all hate my tuna casserole?” The what if’s may soon morph into, “I WILL say something stupid, so I shouldn’t go”, “I am NOT an interesting person so I have nothing to talk about”, “my tuna casserole is for the birds, so of course, they WON’T like it!”

When our minds are consumed with anxious thoughts, we must take a moment and ACKNOWLEDGE that anxiety is present. This is the first step in overcoming those harmful feelings. Next, we must practice POSITIVE SELF TALK which includes, affirming ourselves by saying positive things to and about ourselves in response to our negative thoughts. Finally, once we take the first two steps, we can effectively begin COUNTERING those negative thoughts. Here are some counter statements on how to do that: “Why would I say something stupid? “What is the worst thing I can say?” “Am I going to say that I think that elephants are flying in my neighborhood?” “No, probably not, and if I did who cares!”

You can work yourself through those uncomfortable moments, and you can conquer anxiety. Anxiety likes to introduce us to distorted thoughts. Anxiety magnifies the “what if this, what if that’s”, and the thoughts that things won’t work out when in fact there is no evidence to support that. Countering is to redirect and smack that anxiety in the face.

Putting ourselves down and worrying about how something social might turn out, is our self-doubt. If you are invited to a party, then somebody liked you enough to want to include you, so you are already worthy. Remember, you are liked, and you can be yourself. If you are an introvert, like me then sure, you may not be the life of the party, but you don’t want to be that anyway, so you are in control. You can leave the party when you want, you can change the direction of conversations, or you can just be there and take it all in. There is no pressure to perform, you are fine as you are. If you are the host/hostess of a party, you will do great, because you can have people over and spend time with you. Nothing is perfect, so if your tank runs out, you can’t make food, and you have hungry guests, laugh it off, and make it a delivery night!

I understand that this may sound a bit silly, and lighthearted, but let’s review the important points that I hope to leave you with. First, acknowledge your anxiety. Next, get in the habit of practice positive self talk. Finally, practice countering those anxious thoughts with what you know to be positive and factual. Employing these coping strategies is 80% of the battle in fighting anxiety. It isn’t all doom and gloom that’s why anxiety is the friend that doesn’t want to leave the party.

This will not be the last time I write about anxiety, but this is a good start. Please let me know if there are any questions or comments and, please know, you are not alone in your battle, we are here for you!

Contact Benhaven Counseling to set up an appointment.

It has been over two years since we all have been dealing with COVID-19 being an unwelcome part of our lives. Each of us has been exposed to or has known loved ones and friends who have had to deal with this virus. Although it is difficult to stay positive about something that feels that there is no end in sight, it is important to be able to cope with COVID in our world and (sometimes) in our personal lives.

To be completely frank, I know that I am tired of it. In the last 7 months, my family has contracted the virus two times. Being a father of 4 children, 3 of which are younger boys meant that we all had it at the same time. The most recent outbreak in our house was more severe and has caused more medical follow-ups, lingering sicknesses, and the general sense of being tired of it. Maybe the word “tired” is not what can adequately describe how I feel. Sometimes I am just plain sick of it.

I have to be there for my family and I want to be the best I can be. The first step to that is to make sure I am ok and keep a positive mind so I can cope with everything. Sort of like what a flight attendant tells you on the airplane, if oxygen masks drop, make sure to put your mask on before you help anyone else. Because you won’t be much help to your loved ones if you don’t take care of yourself.

Throughout this, this is how I have coped to keep a centered, balanced and positive mind:

Benhaven Counseling helpful blog article about a personal story dealing with stress from covid

1. Practice self-care. Do something nice for yourself. Indulge in a TV show or movie that you like. Treat yourself to relaxation and tell yourself it is okay to relax. Redirect feelings of guilt from not being 100%. What must get done will get done eventually. Resting and taking it easy is building strength and allowing you to be the best for yourself and your family.

2. Redirect negative thoughts or anger. Sure, I was fairly annoyed with the fact that COVID happened again after the first bout. Initially, thoughts started to flood my mind like “Gee, we are careful, what did we do wrong?” to “What is the point in being careful when THIS happens?” Coping by redirecting those thoughts that it was in fact out of our control and that it happened because of it. Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on the action steps of what are you going to do about it? Looking for solutions on how you are going to cope and handle it allows for you to not feel as hopeless or despondent. Taking action, knowing that it will resolve itself, and knowing that you can handle it helps in so many ways.

3. Vent it out. Expressing is vital to dealing with stress. It is important to not let things build up inside (internalize) and to be able to manage any negative feelings. One tactic I use is that I cope by expressing with humor. This reminds me that not all is lost, that I am acknowledging the issue, and trying to laugh about which helps me cope and move on. For example, we received an isolation order from the local Health Department a couple of weeks ago. I mused to my wife that we need to stay home, which is fine by me because I like being home but now I have an order to do so! I could have looked at this in a very bleak way, but made a choice to look at it with more humor and expressed how I never thought I would receive an isolation order, so that is something I accomplished this year! This allowed me to not deny the situation, but to directly acknowledge it and manage through the process.

Covid is still a big issue, but we should remember that this situation is out of control. Instead of brooding, let’s work on what we can do about it. Being frustrated and fatigued by this is a valid thought, but we should focus on enjoying what we have. Having support and people to talk to is a key component as well. We are all truly in this together. If you feel you need additional support, please reach out to us at Benhaven Counseling. We are here to help you get through this.