The Unexpectedly Positive Attributes of Anxiety

Woman in rainbow sweater playing with her multi-colored hair

We all get anxious sometimes: first-date butterflies, taking a test worth 33% of our final grade, or driving away from home only to wonder if we really turned off the stove. Most of the time, these everyday worries pass.

But if you have an anxiety disorder, daily worries can take over your life. From work performance to social interactions and everything in between, an anxiety disorder can leave you feeling nervous, fearful, agitated, and constantly on edge. Luckily, therapists can help those who suffer from anxiety disorders learn to cope with symptoms, and address habits caused by anxiety.

Understanding these habits is the first step toward living happily and healthily with an anxiety disorder. And the news isn’t all bad: Many of the habits people with anxiety express can actually be good qualities if channeled in the right way. Here are some common habits of people with anxiety, and how you can find your secret strengths inside of these behaviors.

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Is Anxiety Genetic?

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As a therapist, I often work with many clients who live with anxiety. That should come as no surprise as anxiety disorders are among some of the most common mental health conditions, especially in the United States. Around 40 million people deal with an anxiety condition annually. One question that comes up from time to time is, “is my anxiety genetic?”

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How I Trained Myself to Worry Better

Woman worried

How I Trained Myself to Worry Better” originally appeared on Shine, an advice blog that makes it easier for you to take care of yourself.

We’re in a golden age of tracking: We track our steps, our sleep, our time on Facebook and other sites we deem “productivity killers” (looking at you, Instagram). But one thing we still don’t track or think about much: the amount of time we spend worrying.

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Is it Possible to Outsource Your Anxiety?

Managing your anxiety by receiving help from another

You know the problems that come with over-scheduling yourself, but you do it anyway. And so you’re stressed, and you’re exhausted. All the competition for your time is manifesting into more anxiety, but you have little time to reflect on what you want and what you need to stay well.

If you want to ease your chronic unrelenting stress, then, “be less busy” is the obvious answer — but it’s an annoyingly unattainable one. After all, if you could just knock things off your to-do list to make time for an afternoon of reading by the fire, wouldn’t you be doing that already?

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When You’re Trapped in the Shame Spiral, Try This

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It happens to everyone: something makes you feel so terrible, so embarrassed and ashamed — and you feel you will never be able to live it down. Sometimes you may not even have done anything, but someone condescended to you, wrote a clipped email or called you out on your behavior in a way that led to your feeling hopeless or wanting to hide.

Often it feels like no matter what you do in the midst of shame, you can’t move past that feeling, and you start thinking about other ways that you have disappointed or embarrassed yourself or others. This is called a shame spiral.

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What Is Second-Hand Anxiety?

Anxious young woman being comforted by a friend

Your friend comes over after a bad day. Huffing and puffing, he brings it all to you: His boss was a jerk, he accidentally deleted his presentation, and spilled coffee on a new white shirt. Suddenly, you find yourself tense, even though you were having a relaxed day.

What gives?

There’s a name for the phenomenon of stress spreading: second-hand anxiety. Second-hand anxiety, or second-hand stress, is not a psychological diagnosis, illness, or disorder. It is, rather, a neurological phenomenon that refers to the way emotions spread.

Understanding how second-hand anxiety works not only teaches us more about the social nature of emotions, but can also help us keep our cool when other people’s negative emotions overwhelm us.

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Negative Thinking Got You Down? Here’s How to Shift Your Thoughts

Pensive young woman deep in thought

What would you do if you were in a relationship with someone who constantly criticized, second-guessed or belittled all of your choices, behaviors and decisions?

Hopefully, you would leave immediately, or at least take major issue with being the victim of emotional abuse.

But what if … that critical person was you?

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Raised by Anxious Parents? Here’s How it Might Be Affecting Your Mental Health

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In my practice, I see many clients who grew up in very anxious families. Parents may have suffered from generalized anxiety, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Often, these parents were never formally diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and it’s only after the fact, during adulthood, that clients are able to recognize and understand how anxious their parents were — and how it has affected their mental health, both during childhood and into adulthood.

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9 Ways To Manage Social Anxiety During The Holidays

woman outside in coat holiday shopping

I approach the holidays with a sense of trepidation every year. I get to our large annual family Christmas gathering and struggle with the small talk and the added attention in brings. How is the job going? What have you been doing the last year? How do you like the city? What have you been writing? Are you dating anyone? Oh no. The way I stutter and stammer and try to hide in a corner with just the baked goods for company, I may as well be the grinch.

While I love the festive spirit, getting to see family and friends who live far away, and picking out gifts for everyone I love, there’s no denying my anxiety can outshine all the holiday cheer. Enter the difficult combination of social anxiety and the holidays. Continue reading 9 Ways To Manage Social Anxiety During The Holidays

12 Things I Wish I Could Have Said to My Fiancé When I Was Crushed by Anxiety

anxious man with head in hands

This piece was first published on The Good Men Project, a publication that offers enlightened masculinity and stories from men.

1. I want to be strong, but I can’t.

On the days when I was really struggling, I simply could not muster up the strength to even get out of bed. I would for fear that you would resent me. I wanted so badly to be the man you needed, but I was broken and I had no clue how to fix myself.

2. When you cry, it destroys me.

On the days when you could no longer handle the person I had become and broke down, my heart broke into a thousand different pieces. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. I was empty inside. Continue reading 12 Things I Wish I Could Have Said to My Fiancé When I Was Crushed by Anxiety