303-485-9428 | 2919 17th Ave #211, Longmont, CO 80503 | Online Therapy Available

Are elevated levels of stress due to the Coronavirus making your anxiety worse?

If you’re struggling more than usual with anxiety right now, you’re not alone.  Even if you or a family member haven’t been infected or exposed to COVID-19, you may be obsessively tuning into the media to search for something that will lessen your fears.  And when you read frightening statistics or don’t find clear answers that give you relief, your anxiety may increase.

So many of us are worried about the risk of getting the Coronavirus. You may fear you aren’t taking the right steps to cope with your current situation.  What can you do now to reduce your anxiety symptoms and feel more in control? How can you relax and stay focused when you constantly feel irritable and keyed up?  And what steps can you take to manage sudden traumatic situations like this if you don’t have the right support systems in place?  

There may be no definitive answers to your questions.  Even if you and your loved ones are safe, you may be sheltering at home together 24/7, and that can bring a lot more stress than you are used to.

I can help you deal with anxiety via Online Therapy.

Anxiety Treatment

Is Anxiety Running Your Life?anx

Do you feel driven by fears and worry? Have you found it hard to concentrate on the simplest of tasks? Maybe your mind sometimes just goes blank. Or perhaps you’re frequently irritable or keyed up, making it difficult to relax and enjoy the present moment.

Do you hold yourself to exceptionally high standards and worry that you’ll fall short? When you think of the future, do you often imagine worst-case scenarios and suffer from headaches, muscle tension or digestive problems? Do you avoid taking risks for fear of failure or rejection, even when you know that by playing it safe you are living a more limited life?

Does your mind frequently race or feel barraged with unwanted or unpleasant thoughts? Are you often plagued with a feeling of dread or impending doom? Maybe you have trouble sleeping or staying asleep. Perhaps your friends or family members have mentioned that your worries seem out of proportion to what is actually happening. Do you wish you could find a way to relax, feel calm and know that everything is going to be okay?

Everyone experiences anxiety at times. Periods of elevated stress can help us maintain focus, meet deadlines and achieve goals. And, being on alert or experiencing fear is one way our brain’s fight or flight system helps us survive when a danger situations arises. But, too much anxiety can cause a tremendous amount of distress and even become debilitating. It can also lead to emotional or relationship problems and prevent us from fully enjoying life.

Anxiety Is Very Common In Our Culture

anxious woman sitting on the groundIf you’re struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. According to some estimates, roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population is affected by some type of anxiety disorder. Some of us are have a tendency to be more anxious due to environmental and/or genetic factors, and women are twice as likely as men to be afflicted. However, anxiety does not discriminate. It impacts people from all backgrounds and walks of life, and it’s important to note that feeling anxious does not mean you are weak.

Our propensity toward anxiety comes from a survival adaptation that combines our fight/flight/freeze system with our ability for complex thinking. This adaptation has helped humans survive, but it also creates difficulties. We also live in a fast-paced, technology-driven world in which there is enormous pressure to excel, and we often forgo self-care in order to get things done. Our nervous systems are often on high alert even when no immediate danger present, making it feel impossible to relax.

The good news is that there is help and hope and that anxiety can be managed and even overcome. New discoveries about the brain have taught us how to effectively treat anxiety disorders. With the support of a compassionate anxiety therapist, you can reduce anxiety symptoms, make thoughtful, empowered choices and feel more alive.

Anxiety Treatment Can Help You Live A More Joyful and Vital Life

I offer a safe, compassionate and nonjudgmental environment in which you’ll have the space to share anything and everything that is coming up for you. All of you is welcome when you come to counseling, including your fears, anger, guilt, shame and grief. Sessions are for you to unload, explore and discover what it is that you need to relax, recharge and live the life that you want to live

woman staring at camera emotionlessI see everyone and their experience with anxiety as unique, which is why we’ll collaboratively design an anxiety treatment strategy that works specifically for you. Using a combination of mindfulness, body-centered approaches, Gestalt philosophy, Focusing techniques and psychodynamic approaches, we will explore the origins of your anxiety to find out what works best for you. Using mindfulness and somatic approaches, I can help you increase your capacity to experience difficult feelings without being overwhelmed by them. I can help you identify and reframe the thinking that fuels your anxiety and to differentiate real from imagined threats. If you suffer from panic attacks or are in constant distress, I can offer you practical techniques that you can use between sessions to help yourself in the moment that anxiety heightens so you can experience immediate relief.

Often, there are deep emotions hidden underneath fearfulness that actually fuel it. Together, we can explore how your present day reactions are related to past experiences, especially those that may have been too overwhelming to fully embrace and integrate at the time. With gentle and empathic support and guidance, I can help you resolve difficult feelings safely so that you feel more whole. I am sensitive to your needs, and you determine the pace of your healing. Over time, you can feel less anxious and more able to face the inevitable stresses that life brings with increased confidence, clarity and ease.

Whether you’re dealing with generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, PTSD or social anxiety, I can help. You don’t have to continue to suffer. Reaching out and asking for help is a courageous first step. With treatment for anxiety, you can learn to let go of harmful thoughts. You can experience relief from emotional anguish and reduce stress-related physical symptoms. With compassionate guidance and new, practical skills, you can experience more freedom, take action in the places you now feel stuck and develop the capacity to face whatever comes your way.

You still might have questions or concerns about anxiety therapy…

What about taking medication? Wouldn’t that be a quicker way of alleviating my anxiety?

For some people, certain medications can reduce anxiety symptoms, and some studies show that medication in tandem with therapy is the most effective form of anxiety treatment. It’s important to note, however, that anxiety medication is usually neither a complete nor a long-term solution. Anti-anxiety medications, particularly Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, can be highly addictive, produce undesired side effects and leave you feeling flat. Alternatively, there are many highly effective forms of anxiety treatment that do not include medication. In anxiety counseling sessions, you can uncover the root causes of your anxiety. You identify triggers and transform anxiety producing thoughts and behavior patterns. You can establish habits to calm your nervous system when it’s on high alert and experience relief without the use of drugs. Essentially, however, the choice to take medication or not is totally up to you. We can explore your options together so you can make an informed decision that best supports you in healing.

I’ve tried therapy before, and it didn’t work.

There are many variables that determine whether therapy works. First, the relationship between the therapist and client is crucial. It is important to find someone whom you can be yourself, relax with and open up to. You also want to trust that the person you choose has the skill and compassion to be there for you, no matter what arises.

happy and smiling manIs the expense of therapy really worth it?

There are things you can do to reduce your anxiety on your own. Doing yoga regularly has been shown to decrease anxiety and controlled breathing exercises can really help when you are experiencing panic. If you have tried different techniques on your own and are still struggling, it can be worth the cost to invest in therapy so you can experience more freedom, vitality and inner calm.

You Can Live With More Confidence, Self-Compassion, Clarity And Ease 

A trusting therapeutic relationship is an investment in yourself and your wellbeing. If you’re in Longmont, CO or the surrounding are and would like to get to know me and see if we are a match, I invite you to contact contact me for a free 30-minute consultation by clicking this link.

Anxiety Blog Posts
  • African American couple wife with PTSD-min
  • Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions across the globe. It can present itself differently, depending on the person. However, the basis of anxiety is an irrational fear or worry. Some people experience it over specific things, while others deal with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.Even though anxiety is so prominent, those that don’t struggle with it often have a hard time fully understanding how it feels or how it can impact someone’s life. If you have a loved one with anxiety, you undoubtedly want to be there for them and help however you can. If you don’t understand what they’re going through, that isn’t easy to do. Unfortunately, you might even come across as cold or uncaring. So, what are some of the things your loved one with anxiety wants you to know? The more you understand about anxiety, the more you can do what’s best for the person you care about. 1. Don’t Talk Them Out of Their Feelings There may be times when someone with anxiety asks you if their fear is justified. In those cases, you can do your best to reassure them. Other than that, don’t try to relieve any negative feelings by talking that person out of them. That suggests that their feelings aren’t valid or that they aren’t real. For the person dealing with anxiety, those feelings are genuine and can be overwhelming. Instead, listen to their feelings, validate them, and work with them to alleviate worries without belittling them. 2. They Can’t Shake the Irrationality Most people with anxiety have at least some understanding that their fears are irrational. It can feel like a constant battle inside their head between the rational and irrational. Unfortunately, the irrational is hard to get rid of. So, it often takes over. With that in mind, you don’t need to remind them about that irrationality constantly. Reassurance is one thing. But, telling someone with anxiety that their fears aren’t “real” will lead to embarrassment and could impact their condition even more. 3. They Can’t “Turn It Off” Some people with anxiety often deal with triggers. There are times when their symptoms might be worse. That doesn’t mean that they’re only feeling anxious around those triggers. Anxiety isn’t something that can be turned on and off with a switch. People dealing with it don’t want to feel it all of the time — but many do. They’re not doing it to get attention or to make anyone else’s life more difficult. If you ever find yourself getting frustrated or even annoyed by a loved one with anxiety, remind yourself of this fact. 4. They Appreciate Your Kindness If you don’t have anxiety yourself, there is no way you can genuinely or fully understand what someone with it goes through daily. When you’re willing to do what it takes to help them calm down, reassurance them, or just be a listening ear, they appreciate it. You don’t have to understand the full scope of anxiety to know how much it’s affecting someone you care about. It can be a very lonely condition, which can boost the fear and worry people struggling with it already have. By showing kindness, patience, and trying to understand as much as possible, you can make a big difference in your loved one’s life. — If you have a loved one with anxiety, it’s a good idea to educate yourself. Feel free to contact me if you’re struggling to understand what they’re going through. Or if it’s causing you extra stress in your own life, and you need to know how to manage it. Please reach out today.

  • Woman with social anxiety in coffee shop

    It’s been a full year. Last March, a wave of funny internet memes emerged. The topics often explored the woes of forced introversion and social anxiety. Dark humor can be quite helpful in dark times. But now, however, the laughs have long since faded. Even folks who never struggled with social anxiety are feeling buried under so many new stressors and unknowns.Yes, the quarantine itself can be the cause of social anxiety disorder. There is no clear end in sight. Thus it has become necessary for us to better understand this condition. We must recognize its triggers and identify self-care steps we can take before things get worse. What is “Social Anxiety”? One thing social anxiety is: the third most common psychological disorder in the United States (behind depression and alcoholism). Some individuals struggle with specific social anxiety, e.g. public speaking. Far more common is a generalized form of the disorder of which the hallmarks are: Chronic worry Indecision Fear of embarrassment Anticipatory anxiety Depression Self-blame Feeling inferior Physiological symptoms may include sweating, increased heart rate, trembling hands, dry mouth, muscle twitches, and blushing. These symptoms and above feelings are most commonly triggered by situations like: Any type of introduction Dealing with strangers and/or authority figures Getting teased or criticized Being made into the center of attention, e.g. when everyone is asked to say something about themselves in a group Any time you’re watched while performing a task Enter the Quarantine To bring things back to the memes mentioned above, social distancing would seem like a boon for shy or introverted people. But even the socially aloof thrive on some human contact. A sudden shift to isolation is enough to throw anyone off their game. Healthy socializing requires practice. Meeting with others can now inspire fears of getting sick and fears of embarrassing oneself. This reality has the power to drive people into further withdrawal. The cycle deepens. There are other recent factors — civil unrest, political division, economic crisis, etc. These increase the likelihood of developing social anxiety. How to Manage Quarantine-Induced Social Anxiety Back Away From The Screens This is foundational. There’s fake news, of course. But even the real news is enough to drive anyone into hiding. Put down your devices, turn off your notifications, and give your mind a mini-vacation. In this setting, you can reclaim the clarity you need to better assess what is and isn’t a risk. Separate Worrying From Problem-Solving There are genuine reasons for concern in the world. But, there are always genuine reasons for concern in the world. Worrying is a normal reaction — if temporary. The key, when trying to manage social anxiety, is to move into problem-solving before worrying becomes entrenched. Challenge your inner critic. Anxiety is an excellent liar so fact-check its stories before moving forward. From there, focus on solutions. Start Small No one should be expected to rush right back into anything resembling “normalcy.” Take calculated risks and be patient with yourself. Connect with trusted friends and family members and let them know how you’re feeling. Ask them to help you ease back into the swing of things. Build Some New Routines The idea of going back to the way things were before can be daunting. Create a new schedule. Fill it with fresh ideas. Re-evaluate as needed. Practice Self-Care Prioritize your physical health as you manage your mental health. Safeguard crucial daily functions and patterns, e.g. Stick to steady sleep habits Make healthy eating choices Engage in daily activity and exercise You Are Not Alone Plenty of people are struggling these days. There is no shame in needing to step back and reassess what matters to you. Consider therapy as a first step. Read more about anxiety treatment and let’s set up a consultation to talk about your situation and your recovery.

  • COVID-19: Coronavirus photo

    Think back to your New Year’s resolutions as 2019 came to a close. Most likely, there was nothing in there about masks or hand sanitizer. No one could’ve seen this coming and, as a result, our collective mental health is under assault. Some 62 percent of adults now report feeling “more anxious” than they did last year at this time. This comes as no surprise.Your routines have been upended and your safety threatened. You’re missing close contact with loved ones and stressing over finances. And then there are the masks and the sanitizer and long lines and the non-stop news notifications. How can you cope as the new year blossoms? Our Problems Didn’t End on New Year’s Eve One of the most common refrains in 2020 went a little something like this: “I can’t wait for this year to be over.” This is understandable but not realistic. There is no on-off switch. As much as you’d all like to wipe the slate clean, there will be plenty of hard work to be done in 2021. The foundation of such work is caring for your mental health. Learning to cope with uncertainty and stress is a crucial life skill. It provides you with much-needed resilience which, in turn, empowers you to better handle the ups and downs. There are many self-help steps at your disposal. 5 Ways to Cope With COVID-19 to Keep and Protect Your Mental Health 1. Practice Self-Care So much of everyday life feels beyond your control and it probably is. But you can create a daily self-care regimen that will take back some of that lost control. Elements of that regimen may include: Relaxation techniques and stress management Daily activity and exercise Regular, steady sleep patterns Healthy eating choices Carving out some solitude Making time for others (see #3) Powering down your devices (see #4) 2. Create and Maintain Routines The development of your self-care regimen can help you form other routines. Such structure is essential to stave off the inevitable moments of anxiety and depression. These routines may involve work, study, exercise, meals, chores, and fun time. It’s not about keeping a rigid schedule but having a daily sense of rhythm. 3. Stay Connected in Any Way That Feels Safe Here is where technology really comes in handy. If your current situation makes socializing impossible, come up with creative ways to circumvent that reality. Perceive this social time as a) self-care and b) an important routine to maintain. 4. Take Tech Breaks Few of us thrive when they are inundated with tech notifications and incessant updates. Your phone presents you with an ideal way to practice cultivating structure. Schedule regular tech breaks to ease your mind and free your spirit. The headlines will there be waiting when you return. So much anxiety is founded on fears that never manifest. Don’t feed the beast. 5. Help Others Nothing calms the soul like giving to others. Even in this time of isolation, there are always ways to reach out to those in need. From feeding the stray cats on your block to organizing a donation drive to the local food bank, altruism and compassion are healthy ways to redirect your mind and connect with others. Ask For Help In extraordinary circumstances, you sometimes need more than self-help. Working with a therapist — in-person or via video chat — can be the precise kind of support you need. Your weekly sessions will offer you clarity, validation, and hope. Your psychotherapist will serve as a guide as you navigate the uncharted territory of life in 2021. It all begins with more information about anxiety treatment and a therapy consultation. To learn more about anxiety treatment in Longmont, CO, click here. If you would like to explore therapy to assist you, please contact me to set up free 30 minute consultation soon.

  • Woman having panic attack

    Current events seem like reason enough to feel triggered and tense these days. You feel edgy, you’re having sleep issues, and perhaps your mind keeps sinking into a dark place. It’s logical to look for factors in your present life. But, quite often, the problem is rooted in a much deeper plane. What’s happening during the pandemic may be aggravating long-term trauma you hold inside. That’s not to say that today isn’t tough. Far from it. What hidden trauma can create, due to underlying and unaddressed causes, is a situation where the stress of today is even more tough to bear. How Trauma Gets Stuck Inside of You When you go through a traumatic experience, the impact on your brain and physiology can cause some of the following symptoms: Difficulty regulating emotions: Your stress hormones may stay elevated. This impacts your sympathetic nervous system in a way that fatigues your body systems — leaving you “stuck” in a highly activated state. Hyper-vigilance: The amygdala is like a smoke alarm.  It is the part of the brain that identifies threats so your brain can tag such memories with the necessary emotion. Trauma can lock the amygdala into the “on” position. You suddenly perceive threats everywhere. Being stuck in the past: Trauma causes an increase in a stress hormone called glucocorticoid. This impacts your memory’s ability to eventually recognize the threat as something from the past. The threat feels present. Thus, when you are triggered, your body is responding as if the threat is happening now. The stress of the actual experience plus the legacy of the trauma can lead you feeling as if: You’ll never recover The trauma is your defining characteristic Everything you experience is viewed through the lens of the past Begin the Process of Getting Un-Stuck From Your Trauma Dealing with something like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is difficult and often requires help from a trained mental health professional. That said, there are some self-care steps you can begin taking ASAP. These may include: Sleep: Maintain regular and sufficient sleep patterns. Get to bed and awaken at roughly the same time each day. Eat: Make healthy choices. Take time to shop and cook and make your meals into a full experience. Consult a nutrition expert if you feel unsure how to do this. Exercise: Daily activity is a must! Find something that lights you up and get moving. Relaxation techniques: Classic approaches include yoga, stress management, breathing exercises, and meditation. But feel free to get creative. Whatever works for you is best. Tech breaks: Put down your devices and let your mind reset. Prioritize yourself in other ways: Pay attention to your sensory needs. You may crave a warm bath, a long walk, your favorite music, some time in the local coffee shop, or a cuddle with your pet and/or partner. Honor those desires. The above steps can help you in two ways: Self-care is, by design, meant to soothe, calm, nourish, and rejuvenate. Engaging in self-care reminds you that you are worth the attention, and it brings you into the present moment — away from the past that is trying to keep you stuck. Dealing With Trauma is NOT a Solo Journey The legacy of trauma and PTSD are challenging to live with. The choices you make and the self-care you practice are indispensable. However, as mentioned above, it is hard to manage years or decades worth of repressed feelings on your own.  Trauma often needs a relational home to heal.  For many people, therapy has proven to be the path to recovery. You and your psychotherapist will work as a team to discern what current situations are vexing you and what lingering problems are complicating things. Combining this with your self-help measures is a proven process of discovery and healing. Please contact me soon for a consultation. To learn more about anxiety and trauma treatment in Longmont, CO, click here. If you would like to explore therapy to assist you, please contact me to set up free 30 minute consultation soon.

  • Woman of color being shamed

    Word choice matters. We are all learning this more and more often — and it goes double in 2020. In psychological terms, it’s also essential that we properly identify our emotions. Along those lines, let’s do away with any belief that guilt and shame are “kinda-sorta” the same things. They are, in fact, two very distinct feelings and experiences. On top of that, the essence of guilt must be clarified because it can be either healthy or unhealthy. This is not merely semantics. It is not splitting hairs. Understanding the difference between shame and guilt is crucial to our wellbeing. Let’s Start with Shame Shame can be quite a challenge to accept and address. Shame, it is thought,  is hard-wired in our brains when we are as young as 15 months. Once it is internalized, a sense of shame can dramatically influence how you see and treat yourself. Furthermore, shame is more based on belief than reason. The belief at its root is that you are inherently and uniquely flawed in your essence… even to the point of being worthless. The outcomes of this mindset are entirely negative and manifest in behaviors like: Avoidance Social withdrawal Intense fear of rejection Unchecked, shame has been shown to lead to more severe problems like depression and substance abuse. Strategies to Address Shame It is crucial that shame is acknowledged and compassionately addressed. How? The following steps are a productive start: Counter shame with relentless self-compassion Talk to yourself as you would talk to a loved one in crisis Challenge the validity of your internal monologue Ask for evidence when your inner critic lashes out Take steps toward widening your social circle Develop relationships and a sense of belonging Unhealthy Guilt Experienced as early as age three, unhealthy guilt is founded on some unreasonable expectations. You set irrational standards in our childhood, hoping to please the adults in your life. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, you can never reach those standards as you yourself grow into an adult. The resulting feeling is profound and debilitating emotional discomfort. Until you address these long-term irrational beliefs, unhealthy guilt will provide you with consistently negative outcomes. You are trapped by this self-imposed cycle. When unhealthy guilt strikes, you find yourself more likely to engage in self-punishment than in any kind of introspection. Rather than ponder what needs to be changed, you sink deeper into the pattern. Steps to Address Unhealthy Guilt Once again, two major steps are the cultivation of self-compassion and the development of healthy relationships Identify your strengths along with your weaknesses Recognize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses Clarify whether or not your expectations of yourself are reasonable or not Healthy Guilt Also called “helpful guilt,” this emotion arises when you’ve done something that is objectively wrong. Developed as young as 3 years old, healthy guilt is a mostly rational response to your own behavior and actions. Everyone messes up at times and it is natural to feel like you’ve disappointed yourself. You broke your own moral code and, as a result, you’re feeling some psychological discomfort. For the most part, this outcome is positive. Healthy guilt puts you in a position to repair any damage you’ve done and to seek forgiveness. Steps to Address Healthy Guilt Own up to your actions Take responsibility Authentically apologize Show remorse Do the work to change the mindset that led to the transgression Heal your connection with the people involved Talk to Someone You Can Trust Sorting out emotions like guilt and shame is very challenging work — especially in an age teeming with false information. It only makes sense that you would choose to seek out a trusted expert to serve as your guide. Working with an experienced counselor provides you with a safe space to explore emotions, their causes, and their outcomes. Regular therapy sessions can help you identify the thoughts and patterns that are shaping you. Please read more about possible therapy options and contact me to set up a free 30-minute consultation soon.