Stacy Hurley

Stacy Hurley

Remember – Send me your stories and questions. All are confidential. You can email Ask Stacy at askstacyssw@gmail.com. You can also see follow up information and resources for each topic on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/askstacyssw.

Question: Dear Stacy, I feel like my anxious thinking is keeping me from being productive and I don’t know what to do about it. Please help!

Answer: Dear Feeling Anxious, I am so glad that you reached out. Anxiety can be very debilitating in all areas of life and you are certainly not alone. Almost 1 in every 3 people in the United States will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Learning healthier ways to channel your anxiety is the best way to curtail it, but it won’t be easy. Anxious thinking is caused from obsessive thoughts and “what-if” scenarios that you continually replay over and over in your mind. Slowing down “The Wheel of Anxiety” will take practice and intentionality.

What happens on the wheel is this: 1. Anxious mess, 2. Do self-care activities or go to therapy, 3. Hey, I am feeling pretty good, 4. Wait, too good…suspiciously good, 5. Something terrible is going to happen any minute now. (@introvertdoodles)

This “spinning” cycle is like a washer tossing your thoughts all around, creating frustration and exhaustion since you never seem to “solve” what is bothering you. Your mind is telling you to be “worried” so you run through every possible solution which is only giving you an illusion of control. Ultimately, you are attempting to solve an irrational fear using rational thought, and that is impossible!

“To keep anxiety at bay, we should sit with it. This means choosing actions that address the anxiety itself rather than dealing with the subject we think we’re anxious about.” (Vicki Botnick, MA, MS, MFT)

I know this may sound scary, to “sit” with your anxiety, but this will help you learn your signs and how to let go. Understanding that stress and anxiety go hand in hand can help you better identify your stressors and can help you better understand what you are anxious about. I usually recommend journaling or keeping a log of each instance and situation that happens so that you can begin to pinpoint the exact trigger for your anxiety. You have to know yourself and when you begin to feel “different” in order to be able to manage your symptoms.

Unfortunately, the goal of all this will never be to completely eliminate all your symptoms, at some point they will reappear, but when they do, you will be better prepared and know how to manage them to your benefit. If you self-assess that your anxiety has become too severe for you to handle and it is interfering with your work, home life, relationships and daily living, then it may be time to consult a professional. Talk therapy along with behavior modification techniques can really help you tackle anxiety symptoms. You can also talk to your Primary Care Physician and therapist about possible medication options if that is something that you believe may be helpful.

“Anxiety is more common than people realize. You might feel embarrassed, but the truth is that this is part of being a human, and it’s OK to ask for help.” (Jane Pernotto Ehrman, MEd.)

Here are some resources on the topic.

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