Surrey-Langley Anxiety Counselling

 

You are not alone

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health afflictions, affecting 1 out of 5 North Americans. So, the good news is that you are not alone!  Everyone feels anxiety at some point in their life, even if they don’t talk about it. Many people experience anxiety and stress that impedes their daily life. This “fight or flight” response is a normal part of life, part of our humanity and biological heritage. However, sometimes this response becomes bigger than it needs to be and disrupts our sense of balance. Many of us simply grew up in an environment where we were not taught to self-regulate or calm down to release this build-up of feelings and sensations, so it stores up inside of us. This energy eventually bubbles up to the surface to be released, which is a good thing. But if you weren’t taught to process this energy, then our biology starts to break down and can this can turn into mental health issues and illness. The good news is that you can learn to work with your anxiety, and a working with a therapist can help you to reduce worry.

 

How anxiety may show up for you

There are a variety of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, panic and separation anxiety. For example, perhaps you frequently worry about your health or the health of loved ones, work/school, or bad things happening to you (generalized anxiety disorder) OR perhaps you feel uncomfortably shy,  afraid of saying something embarrassing or have difficulty joining conversations (social anxiety). Regardless of what type you have, anxiety disorders impact the mind and body – you may experience it physically as constricted muscles, feeling restless, rapid heartbeat, avoidance of certain situations that evoke fear, trouble breathing, headaches, or insomnia. From a mental standpoint, anxiety disorders may manifest as memory issues, over thinking, difficulty focusing, racing thoughts, lack of patience or procrastination. None of these symptoms are desirable and can cause much misery. But there is hope! You can develop a different relationship with your mind and body.

 

It’s not your fault

You are not to blame. Anxiety disorders may be inherited or influenced by either your parent’s behaviour or a traumatic life experience. You may not be able to change your life experience or your parents, but you can learn to manage your anxiety. Developing mindfulness skills through the arts can help your brain to focus on the present moment and to experience relief from the endless borage of thoughts that cripple you and cause you pain.  Accepting that anxiety is normal and that you are not to blame fosters self compassion and therefore encourages the weakening of the anxiety. In fact, anxiety can be helpful – it is meant to help us to sense and evaluate our body and how it is being affected by stressful thoughts. Anxiety can become more tolerable if you accept it as a normal part of life and bring greater awareness to your moment-by-moment experience. You can learn to relate to your anxiety in healthier ways.

 

How Can Expressive Arts Therapy Help With Anxiety?

Using your creativity and the process of making art, you can connect with those deeper feelings that are lying beneath the surface. Art therapy offers an opportunity to find understanding through self-expression and increases self-esteem through the act of creation. Through the arts, you may gain insight into your fears and emotions that are not easily expressed in the form of words. Becoming aware of your body and its sensations through the arts and mindfulness will help you notice what is happening in your body, and befriend anxiety instead of resisting or running away from it. Expressive Arts therapy is successful in calming the nervous system – as we create art and focus our attention away from a worrisome thought, our nervous system is soothed. It encourages our ability to focus on one task at a time and interrupts rumination. In reducing anxiety, art therapy can help release stress and encourage playfulness in our lives. Expressive arts and Focusing Oriented Therapy help us to see our situation from a different body-based perspective, connecting us to our inner strength and life force. We are provided with the opportunity to process difficult emotions, thoughts and feelings.

 

 How I can help

Through the arts therapy of the imagination, as well as somatic body based Focusing Oriented Therapy, we explore mind-body responses to your specific stressors. The work may also include breathing and grounding exercises to calm down the nervous system, as well as some mindfulness-based relaxation exercises to help you feel more settled. As well, some cognitive behavioral exercises along with coping skills may also be implemented to help you conquer your fears and learn to manage stressors in life.  In this way, you will begin to make peace with your body and mind as you face your fears. I have a variety of arts-based exercises in conjunction with connecting with the inner wisdom of your body that will assist in reducing anxiety symptoms. You too can learn effective tools and techniques to quiet the mind and physical expressions of anxiety. You can learn to relax and work with the natural intelligence of the body and to make friends with your anxiety. It doesn’t have to control your life or limit your happiness anymore. Release yourself from the fear and excessive worrying, and live more fully!

REFERENCES

Brown, Jenny. Retrieved from www.jennybrown.ca/anxiety-disorders.html

Shannon, Jennifer, The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens: CBT Skills to Overcome Fear, Worry & Panic. 2015

Wehrenberg, Margaret. The 10 Best Anxiety busters: Simple Strategies to take Control of your Worry,  2015