Whether it’s frequent worrying, sleeplessness, being stressed out at work, or painful stomach aches, anxiety can manifest in so many different ways, and recognizing that you are actually suffering from anxiety can be the first step in getting relief from this very common but often painful form of personal experience.
Many highly creative individuals suffer from equally high anxiety. The lively imaginative capacity that produces compelling film, art and literature can also haunt us with exaggerated fears and overly dark foreboding for the future. I work with many creative professionals, as well as individuals in many other fields, to learn how to wield their imagination in more life-affirming ways, while still having access to darker aspects of the self as needed for rich character development and other aspects of their creative work.
In addition to what’s called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), many closely related challenges include insomnia, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), erectile dysfunction (ED), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many addictions are also driven by efforts to manage or reduce nervous symptoms.
I tailor my treatment of anxiety to meet the unique needs of each individual I work with, but I have found that for most people, a combination of several different physical and emotional interventions are most helpful. First of all, getting some kind of regular exercise program in place is a strong foundation for contending with anxiety, and can be even more effective than popular psychotropic medications. Learning to eat more healthy food can also contribute to the solution, and finding ways to reduce stress wherever possible can of course make a big difference. Many clients find that they need to learn how to more firmly say “no” to unrealistic demands on their time from friends, family members, and/or work obligations.
I have also found for myself and most of my clients that it’s helpful to get underneath the anxiety to identify what deeper feelings are lurking below the surface. Often we’re having big negative feelings toward another person which don’t feel “appropriate” or “justified” to express out loud, so we end up repressing the emotions, which then reappear in the form of anxiety. For example, if it seems like your boss often makes you feel nervous, you may actually be really angry or even enraged with him or her. Of course, in most circumstances, it’s not cool to unload on your boss, so in the safety of my office I can help you express yourself freely, and also to learn how to cultivate a richer emotional life internally that doesn’t actually need to be expressed externally, especially in situations where to do so would be self-sabotaging.
Chronic feelings of toxic shame or shyness, where you feel inadequate in comparison to other people, can also be a big source of social anxiety as well as other symptoms of nervousness. Internalized homophobia, sexism, and racism can all cause and/or exacerbate corrosive underlying feelings of humiliation driving the conscious experience of anxiety.
If you come to see me for therapy, we can explore together what kind and severity of anxiety you are struggling with, what might be the contributing factors, and the best steps for helping you feel calmer, more free to pursue your goals, and enjoy life more fully.