Last week I talked about hope for high-functioning depression. This week I’d like to continue on a slight variation of that and talk about hope for anxiety… Because the two often go hand in hand. People suffering from high-functioning depression also often suffer from some form of anxiety.
Whether it’s social anxiety, panic attacks, or just an inexplicable generalized anxiety about anything and everything. I know how painful it can be and I want to help you get out of the cycle of worry.
Check out this week’s vlog to find out what Groundhog Day can teach us about stopping anxiety.
Anxiety Symptoms are Painful!
If you have ever been stuck in a panic attack, or you're having symptoms of generalized anxiety, your chest is getting all tight and it just feels like it's never going to end, then you know how painful anxiety can be. Or maybe you struggle with social anxiety in certain situations and you wonder if you will ever be able to go out and be around people and just enjoy yourself without having to worry constantly and feel uncomfortable. You start to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, caught in what feels like a never-ending bad day on repeat.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to keep re-living the same painful experiences over and over again.
Our Beliefs About a Situation Change Our Experience of It
So if that ever happens to you, if you get caught up in the cycle of worry, if you get physical symptoms of anxiety, if you have panic attacks and you just feel like you can not handle what's happening at the time, I want you to remember that our beliefs about a situation change our experience of it. What do I mean by that, you ask?
What Groundhog Day Teaches Us About Hope
I was watching the news this weekend and they do the whole thing in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where they wait for the groundhog to come out and see if he sees his shadow or not. I started thinking to my self, it's interesting, it's just an old superstition that we have that if he doesn't see his shadow, then it's gonna be an early spring, but if he does, then it's six more weeks of winter. When in reality, whether he sees his shadow or not does not change how long the winter is going to last. But our belief about it does change our experience of the remaining days of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, we have hope, and we feel better about enduring the remaining days of winter.
Believing Anxiety Won’t Stop Actually Makes It Last Longer
Our belief about whether spring is going to come sooner or later changes our experience of it. That can also be true of anxiety. In the case of anxiety, our belief about whether it will or won't pass can not only change our experience of it while it’s happening, but unlike winter weather, our beliefs about anxiety can actually shorten or prolong our experience of it.
What I mean by that is if we are starting to get some of the inklings of anxiety or that a panic attack might be coming on, our belief that it is going to last forever, just like winter sometimes feels like it might last forever, will prolong our anxiety. Our belief that it's going to last long and be terrible can actually create a self fulfilling prophecy and make it worse or make it last longer than it might otherwise have done.
But if we believe that maybe the groundhog didn't see his shadow, in this example, that winter will be shorter, if we believe that our anxiety will pass eventually, that will shift our anxiety in a couple ways.
First of all it will ease our experience of the anxiety as it's happening and it will make it less terrible as it's occurring. It will also start to shorten the length of the anxious spell. Rather than prolonging it with additional anxious thoughts of, "Oh my goodness this is gonna last forever," and then escalating like it never will end, it will allow it to pass in it's own time without us making it worse.
So in this case our belief about it not only changes our experience of it while it's happening, it will also change how long the anxiety will last.
Your Panic Attack or Anxiety Will Pass (Just Like Winter)
Next time you are stuck in the middle of a panic attack, or you're feeling anxiety or you're wondering if you will ever be able to go out to a party or a social event and not have to be constantly caught up in worry, I want you to remember the groundhog. I want you to remember that your belief about this will change your experience of it and it will ease the anxiety and help it pass.
But What if it Doesn’t?
Okay, now I know some of you might be out there thinking, "Yeah Becky, that's great and I know that there are places in this world, like the Arctic Circle for example, where it's just winter all the time and my belief that winter will pass will not make it pass any sooner."
Yes, I understand that, that is true and that is why most people don't live in those places, because they are uninhabitable. If you find that some of the circumstances of your life create an environment the feels like the Arctic Circle for you, where the winter of your anxiety will never pass, then we can talk about what some changes are that you might be able to make so that you can move to a warmer climate.
Here in Boulder, Colorado, currently doesn't feel like winter is passing very quickly, but that won't always be the case. I know that here the seasons will change and it will pass,, eventually.
Anxiety Treatment Can Help Stop the Worrying
If you feel like you’re caught in an endless winter and don’t know what steps you need to take to get out, then reach out and schedule a free consult call. We can talk about how anxiety, worry or panic attacks are affecting your life and make a plan to get you out of the cycle of anxiety.
I’ve taught many people how to ride out anxiety or panic attacks and build a life that is more balanced and not ruled by fear and worry. Anxiety therapy is highly effective at reducing symptoms of anxiety, including worry, social anxiety and panic attacks. Click below for a free 30-minute consult where we can discuss what’s happening in your life right now and how we can find you some relief. Set up your free consult call today!
For more information on anxiety therapy and how it can help stop the worrying and panic, visit the Anxiety Treatment page.