Most people who have never experienced true anxiety have no clue what it’s like! As an Atlanta anxiety counselor, I know how it goes. People mean well when they say ‘Just stop worrying about it, everything will be fine’, but they don’t really know what it’s like.

Anxiety can be like a storm. You get used to the fact that it’s coming, although you aren’t really sure when. Sometimes you can predict it, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere. You fear it’s coming, because you know the destruction it brings.

When it does come, it can take over the whole day. Like a storm that causes a person to stay inside, when you experience anxiety you feel overwhelmed with the symptoms and often times internalize them and try to deal with them alone, inside. Because most people don’t get it. And then the heavy waves of symptoms roll in. Like the disturbing nature of lightning, and thunder, and heavy winds and rains, anxiety floods you with difficulties concentrating, racing thoughts, tightness in your chest, difficulties breathing, heavy crying, feelings of panic…And when it happens you can’t focus on anything else. You’re consumed by the storm.

But What If There Was a Different Approach? Let’s talk about those horrible suggestions, and learn more about what works.

-Just ignore it. Eventually it will go away. – Here’s the problem with ignoring it. When we ignore anxiety we don’t deal with it. So, it keeps coming. It keeps wreaking havoc. Instead of ignoring it, how about acknowledging it’s there. Noticing the feeling. Recognizing it by saying “I feel anxious.”

-There’s nothing to be worried about.- This doesn’t help because sometimes there really is something. Try recognizing what you’re fearing. Sometimes when we realize what we’re worried about we can help ourselves understand that what we’re fearing doesn’t match our response (the feeling), in the sense that it’s not so serious. So, ask yourself ‘what am I fearing’, and then ask yourself ‘Is that so bad?’ Sometimes you can even ask, ‘Am I going to care about this 5 minutes from now, 5 hours from now, 5 days from now, and 5 y ears from now?’

-Just take some medicine – This may not work if you’re experiencing anxiety that is attached to a negative belief or to a trauma. While seeing a psychiatrist and being treated with medication is sometimes helpful, it is also suggested that you begin changing your thinking patterns. So, instead of only taking medicine, try doing physical things that can assist with anxiety. Try exercising every day, yoga, meditation, prayer, mindfulness, deep breathing, relaxation, progressive muscle relaxation. Get your body used to taking different paths so that it’s not so prone to feel anxious.

-Just calm down – Sometimes calming your body isn’t all you need. Sometimes your thoughts have to be changed, not just calmed. As an working in Atlanta anxiety counseling, I’ve found that many of my clients who struggle with anxiety also struggle with judging themselves and others. And, they ultimately experience shame. They’re harsh on themselves. They expect perfection. And when they don’t meet the expectation, they feel anxiousness and shame. So, work on that judgment. Release that shame.

-It’s all in your head. – Anxiety is not all in your head, and it’s not all in your body. It’s a mixture of things, and that’s why, as an Atlanta anxiety counselor, I recommend that people take a holistic approach. Take care of your body. Take care of your brain. Fuel your body with foods and liquids that assist the process. And, learn to ride the wave. Understand that eventually the feeling of anxiety will pass. Like a wave in the ocean that rises, it also falls, and the sea calms again. The same is true about anxiety. You can trust that the feeling will pass. When it does, honor yourself for getting through it.

If you’re experiencing anxiety, know that there is hope. There are lots of options for working to reduce the symptoms and live a more content life. Reach out to someone. Talk about it. Approach it. Work on it. You can experience freedom.

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