I’m A Worrier, But Maybe That’s Not Such A Bad Thing

worried red headed woman with hand on chin

I worry. A lot. About the little things, like whether my kids are coming down with pneumonia, or if we have enough milk left for breakfast tomorrow morning. And about the big things, like whether I will lose any of my freelance work, or whether our house will flood during the next hurricane.

I spend nights up worrying about the even bigger things too. I wonder if one day my kids will live in a world without hate, and I worry that our planet is going to go kaput sooner rather than later as a result of climate change.

Usually, I think of my worrying as one of my worst traits (yes, I worry about my worry, too), and something that I should probably work on eliminating from my life. But recent research points to the idea that maybe being a bit of a worrier can actually be a good thing. Continue reading I’m A Worrier, But Maybe That’s Not Such A Bad Thing

The Emotional Impact Of Frequent Moves During Childhood

unhappy girl arms folded moving with parents

By the time I was 12 years old, I had moved 10 times — more if you count the separate moves my parents made after they split up. My parents were hippies (or beatniks, if you ask my mother), always up for an adventure, and always hoping that a change of place would fix their problems and make them happy.

In certain ways, I see the moves we made when I was a kid as part of a wild, interesting, beautiful ride. But mostly, I hated moving, and I think of the moves my family made as symptomatic of their impulsive, unstable behavior — and at least one of the triggers of my lifelong anxiety and panic disorder.

Melissa Moreno, LCSW-R, a Talkspace therapist, agrees that frequent childhood moves can contribute to anxiety for some children. “Frequent moves can bring up some uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety and impact one’s ability and desire to build and maintain relationships,” she told me. “Some individuals link frequent moves to lower life satisfaction and poorer psychological well-being.” Continue reading The Emotional Impact Of Frequent Moves During Childhood

How to Manage Social Anxiety When Meeting Your SO’s Friends

man with girlfriend her friends in living room

My first experience meeting a significant other’s close friends was like being thrown into the lion’s den. I’m from a small rural town and had recently moved to a city. The group I was diving into was a suburban clique that had known each other since childhood.

I was in an unfamiliar place. People asked me lots of questions. I drank to relax. Long story short, it was awful.

Just getting out and dating with social anxiety comes with its own set of pitfalls and requires both courage and commitment. Now that you’ve jumped that hurdle, getting serious means meeting friends and family. This step of relationship growth can be a big social anxiety trigger.

Over the years, I searched for ways to make the best of meeting my partner’s friends, much to the benefit of the authors of the books I bought and therapist I paid. The following tips are what I learned and will help you have the best experience possible when meeting your significant other’s close friends or family. Before we dive in, my tips assume your partner knows about your social anxiety, your symptoms, and is committed to supporting you. If that’s not the case, that should be your first step. Continue reading How to Manage Social Anxiety When Meeting Your SO’s Friends

Traveling With Anxiety

woman traveling on train blurred view

Mental illnesses like anxiety disorders often hold us back from living life to its full potential. For many people, traveling is a dream. Who doesn’t want to see the world, explore new arts and cultures, and try native foods?

Anxiety is a naggy voice in our heads that loves to tell us what we can’t do. It creates scenarios in our mind, generating “what-ifs” that make us scared to live our daily lives, let alone venture out of our comfort zone.

Once your own voice overpowers the nagging, anxious one and you decide to take the plunge and travel, well, it’s expected that a little anxiety will kick in. Even people without anxiety often feel anxious when they’ve got a flight approaching.

As a very anxious person who just returned from a month-long Euro-trip, I have a lot of knowledge to share that can help, no matter where you’re traveling to, or for how long. Never in a million years did I think that I could travel successfully without having a nervous breakdown. These tips will help calm your nerves weeks before departure through the day you land back home. Continue reading Traveling With Anxiety

3 Tips to Manage Anxiety About Money

man woman couple looking at finances

Stress and anxiety about money is inevitable. When people have too little, they are anxious to make more. Even when they are earning enough, it can be difficult to save or effectively invest.

But despite the ubiquity of financial concerns, there is a tendency — even among family members and romantic partners — to avoid the subject entirely. Sometimes people view openly discussing money as gauche or taboo. Nonetheless, avoiding these conversations only exacerbates financial anxiety.

There are three simple steps you can take to alleviate money stress. Taking action or having conversations about finances may be awkward, but it is better for your mental health than avoiding the subject. Continue reading 3 Tips to Manage Anxiety About Money

How to Deal With Multiple Mental Illnesses

brain diagram chart illustration connecting dots

Having a mental illness can change your life. Major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness can alter the way you live every day. While this can certainly be hard, perhaps even more difficult is a diagnosis of two or more mental illnesses.

Having more than one medical illness is known as a comorbid condition. Unfortunately, comorbid mental illnesses are more common than most people think.

Comorbidity in Major Depression

The most common comorbidity with major depression is an anxiety condition. The comorbidity rate can be up to 60%. It’s so prevalent that the appearance of one disorder is often considered a predisposing factor for the other. Approximately 5-9% of the general adult population has an anxiety and depression diagnosis.

Patients with major depressive disorder also have higher rates of psychotic disorders and suicidal risk. Those with a higher suicide risk may have a higher risk of anxiety or psychotic disorder. Continue reading How to Deal With Multiple Mental Illnesses

A Faith-Based Perspective on Overthinking and Anxiety

anxious woman smartphone

Overthinking can lead to depression, anxiety, an inability to move forward, and wrecked emotional health, according to groundbreaking research from psychology professor Susan Nolen-Hoeksema of the University of Michigan. We may not even realize we are overthinking because we’re thinking all the time and it comes so naturally to all of us.

I find myself constantly living out scenarios in my mind that don’t come to pass. It gives me relief to know I am not alone in this. When we are nervous about something — whether it be a deadline for work, a conversation we are not looking forward to having, or a major event that could go well or poorly — it is so easy to let ourselves be consumed with the “what ifs.”

When I find myself in this trap, I will lose sleep, become irritable, and struggle to focus on anything else. None of the scenarios I imagine have ever come to pass, yet they already cause me stress! How backwards is that? And yet, most of us do this all the time. Continue reading A Faith-Based Perspective on Overthinking and Anxiety

Sleeping With Anxiety: 5 Tips to Stop Sharing a Bed With Your Worries

woman in bed anxiety light on

Despite advances in neuroscience during the past several decades, sleep continues to remain mostly a mystery. We know we need it as much as water, food and air. We can go weeks without eating food, but what would happen if you went weeks without sleep? Maybe you have. Various degrees of insomnia, and official sleep disorders, are serious conditions. But, what about periodic anxieties that are significant enough to disrupt our sleep. Missing one night of sleep can disrupt our normal biorhythms enough to disrupt the next night’s, and the next!

Anxiety, for the most part, originates in the mind. The body sensations and feelings we have surrounding anxiety occur because of the psychosomatic nature of our mind-body system. In other words, when we think about situations, even if subconsciously, that appear to be in some way a threat or potential danger, hormones and chemicals are secreted from glands which then give rise to the physiological experiences of tension, tightness, constriction.

These are useful in fight or flight situations, which we believe, at a subconscious level, exist — even if they don’t. The perceived threat or danger is mostly psychological and consists of “what if” statements and pictures in the mind, that are at best unpleasant, and at most, lifestyle threatening. Most all, anxiety is about a future that is, factually, unknown. Anxiety is based on a lot of conjecture.

If you’re too anxious to sleep, there are things you can do to help set up an environment, both internal and external, more conducive to sleep. Consider these tips: Continue reading Sleeping With Anxiety: 5 Tips to Stop Sharing a Bed With Your Worries

Unboxing the Realities of Moving with Anxiety

woman moving box

I’ve always tended to romanticize the thought of moving away. Once I shed my hometown, I would finally become someone who never forgets to floss and sleeps precisely eight hours a night in crisp white linens. Making the big move is an ideal time to introduce other changes in your life too, but you can’t move away from yourself. Or your anxiety. After the move, I might have become slightly more committed to my oral hygiene, but my Persian cat’s weepy eyes still constantly left mysterious beige spots on my cotton sheets.

Perhaps, like me, the idea of starting over somewhere new is your go-to escapist daydream. As the realities of moving set in, however, it can become difficult to keep your anxiety in-check.

Before setting off I tried to deal with the less romantic realities. Pondering housing, thinking about relationships, and coping with these changing elements of my life gave me somewhere to focus my anxiety. I reasoned that this focus would help me identify everything that could potentially go wrong and eliminate the risks. This strategy, however, kept me from acknowledging I was doing something brave and that the risk was part of what made the experience exciting, too. Continue reading Unboxing the Realities of Moving with Anxiety

Anxiety Helped Me Become a Better Person

anxious man bed

As part of May’s Mental Health Month, we shared stories that raised awareness about mental illness and empowered those who suffer from it. This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others. #LightYourWay

I believe that every story has two sides and that each side deserves to be told. More importantly, both sides deserve to be heard.

As I became more involved in the mental health community and began speaking openly about my illnesses, I quickly realized one side of an important story wasn’t being heard. People often overlooked it, ignored it, or saw it as a fairytale. This was the story about how I became resilient, compassionate, and aware of my emotions while attempting to endure another seemingly endless string of self-sabotaging thoughts. It was the positive side of my mental illness.

I’ve suffered from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) for eight years. For a majority of those years, I spent my days in agonizing physical and mental pain. My day would often consist of relentless attacks of intrusive thoughts, shortness of breath, erratic behavior, and total isolation.

Living with anxiety is similar to the feeling an astronaut would get if you opened their helmet in space but, as they started to suffocate, you pulled them back inside to safety so they could breathe again. Continue reading Anxiety Helped Me Become a Better Person