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Anxiety therapy in a nutshell

“I would just like to thank you for your amazing content and online courses. Thanks to your help I am no longer homebound by crippling panic and anxiety. I went out today into a busy town and was happy, I feel safe and liberated. I have shared all my progress with my doctor and she is ecstatic about my progress and will be recommending your courses to other patients struggling with mental health. I am medication free and happy for the first time in my life. The changes are long lasting and I now can get myself out of a low without going further down the rabbit hole.”

But that process requires us to practice, to put ourselves out there even though it feels awkward or uncomfortable. Acting social is the key to up-shifting our brain into being more social again, and then it’ll be more comfortable with time. 

When we practice being social or doing hard things, it basically sends the message to your brain that this is safe; you got this, and your brain downshifts the anxiety levels. 

So when you want to decrease your social anxiety, it’s really essential to allow yourself to stretch your comfort zone, to put yourself out there. And you can do this by practicing willingness. 

Willingness is an ACT term that means choosing to let yourself feel your emotions, even if they’re uncomfortable. Just remember you’re probably not acting awkward; you’re probably feeling anxious. Can you allow yourself to feel this emotion? 

You don’t need to label anxiety as bad; it’s just uncomfortable, and you can handle feeling discomfort because it’s worth it. It’s worth it to choose the life that you want, to be around the people that you care about because that’s part of the life you want to be living. 

So you’ve got to change your rules. Instead of saying, “Anxiety is awful. I can’t bear to go if it makes me anxious. I have to avoid anxiety at all costs.” Instead of saying that, you say something like, “Going to this party is going to be a big mix of emotions. It’ll be fun, exciting. I’ll feel connection and I’ll feel some anxiety, and I can allow myself to feel feelings.” 

While uncomfortable, anxiety is not going to injure you. Say something like, “I can feel my feelings and be okay. I can do hard things because it’s worth it.” And this is the key to taking back control over your life and your emotions. 

If you have this rule like, “I can’t feel anxiety,” then your only option is to avoid situations, and that makes your anxiety go up. But if you flip the script and you say, “Bring it on, anxiety. I can feel you and still live my life,” then all of a sudden, anxiety loses its power. 

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Alcohol use changes your brain chemistry in a way that makes you more anxious. It also changes how you think- which can make you more anxious. And when you’re drunk, you might do stuff that makes you more anxious later…whether you or a family member has a problem with alcohol use, it’s important to know how it affects the brain and the practical steps you can take to escape the cycle. But, I am not a substance abuse counselor, it’s out of my wheelhouse so I was super grateful when Amber Hollingsworth offered to make a video for my channel all about how alcohol use has the surprising side effect of making your brain more anxious. Amber is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Master Addiction Counselor (MAC), she’s super freaking passionate about helping individuals and families overcome addiction and has worked in every level of care since 2004. So I hope you love what she has to say… Here’s Amber.
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Therapy in a Nutshell and the information provided by Emma McAdam are solely intended for informational and entertainment purposes and are not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment regarding medical or mental health conditions. Although Emma McAdam is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the views expressed on this site or any related content should not be taken for medical or psychiatric advice. Always consult your physician before making any decisions related to your physical or mental health. In therapy I use a combination of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Systems Theory, positive psychology, and a bio-psycho-social approach to treating mental illness and other challenges we all face in life. The ideas from my videos are frequently adapted from multiple sources. Many of them come from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, especially the work of Steven Hayes, Jason Luoma, and Russ Harris. The sections on stress and the mind-body connection derive from the work of Stephen Porges (the Polyvagal theory), Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing) Francine Shapiro (EMDR), and Bessel Van Der Kolk. I also rely heavily on the work of the Arbinger institute for my overall understanding of our ability to choose our life’s direction.
And deeper than all of that, the Gospel of Jesus Christ orients my personal worldview and sense of security, peace, hope, and love…
If you are in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or your local emergency services.
Copyright Therapy in a Nutshell, LLC

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I’m taking Spanish 101, I took a little Spanish in high school, but within the first two weeks I’m starting to feel a little lost. Everything is moving so fast. I don’t do great on the first test and I start to panic, this is really hard I think. But then I remind myself, I can do hard things. I haven’t learned this yet, but If I put the work in and reach out to resources, I can learn Spanish. I can learn new skills to help me. So first I’m going to call my parents and see if they have any suggestions for me. They recommend that I talk with the professor. I get online and find the professor’s office hours and set up a time to meet with her. At that meeting the professor reassures me that I can learn this, she tells me about a study group that gets together to learn Spanish, and she also sets up a meeting with the TA. I start going to the study group and realize that the other students are using flash cards to memorize nouns and they’ve got a little song to help with conjugations. That’s a new study skill for me, I can learn new ways to learn. Because I’m studying a little smarter, I do better on the next test but not as well as I’d like. I meet with the TA and the TA explains to me a system for conjugation that’s helpful. I am willing to work hard. We go over the syllabus together. I make a plan for how I’m going to get all my work done. I realize that I have to study 3-4 hours a week to pass this class, I decide to drop one social activity and cut back on work hours so that I have enough time in my schedule to study, but also to take breaks when needed. I will work hard, if I continue to struggle I know who to talk with, and I plan to go to the university learning center and to my academic advisor if needed. But as I put in the study hours and work hard, I start doing better and better on each quiz. I feel more and more confident as the semester goes on. I’ve learned a system for studying and I’ve learned how to do hard things. I pass my Spanish class, and my other classes. I may not have had a perfect grade, but that’s ok, I feel proud of my accomplishment, but even more of my hard work and efforts.

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Anxiety in a Nutshell

Anxiety is pretty common these days and for no specific reason. Every individual has their own set of troubles and some handle them with optimism and peace but some opt the burdensome way, worrying about the outcome, loading so many alternatives on their plate, overthinking, etc. You know what that results in, clearly anxiety.

Research says that every 1 in 13 suffers from anxiety. It is highly common and there are several factors in our daily life contributing to anxiety. It can be genetics, life events, personality, unnecessary nervousness, etc. 

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry and nervousness about some stressful situations, which increases with uncertainty. It is also associated with physical changes like palpitations and increased heart rate. Anxiety is a universal human experience. It is a common symptom of every mental illness. When anxiety is severe and intense it disturbs the internal psychological equilibrium then anxiety is abnormal. 

Anxiety Vs Anxiety Disorder:

Anxiety is different from anxiety disorders. When anxiety is your stage, then it is not that big a thing. 

  • Anxiety comes out of specific trouble or problem whereas anxiety disorder does not require a particular reason to show up. It comes out of nowhere without any sign of a stressor and shakes you.

  • Anxiety is under control and manageable, whereas anxiety disorder is likely is get out of control and one can do terrible things to others or themselves.

  • When it is anxiety you are nervous and worried about some issue but in case of anxiety disorder, the emotional responses you will suffer are so distinct. They are extremely intense and one might think those responses are unnecessary for a problem like that.

  • Symptoms vary highly. Worry and nervousness are the things you encounter in the face of anxiety. But in anxiety disorder several symptoms accompany and they can be physical. Dizziness, sweating, shivering, light-headedness, pounding heart, shortness of breath, frequent urination, etc. You will not observe these symptoms in the instance of anxiety.

  • When you are worried about a particular situation and for a particular time it is anxiety. But if it lasts for a longer time than required and bothering you in a normal situation too then it is an anxiety disorder. 

  • Anxiety seems realistic, but anxiety in the case of anxiety disorder seems unrealistic and foolish. 

In this way, there is a vastly noticeable difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. Everything seems intense and fierce in the instance of an anxiety disorder. It plans excessive anxiety and impairs your daily routine in every way it can. It disturbs your studies and your work life. You have chances to lose focus, skipping, and procrastinating your work in search of something, and you, unfortunately, do not know what you are searching for.

Anxiety disorders need assistance and one has to seek without delay. Proper care, medicine, and counseling are significant for a person with an anxiety disorder. Treatment depends upon the severity and type of anxiety disorder. But anxiety disorders can be treated. Research says that they respond well to therapy and show some changes. Do not assume that anxiety will walk away, it is going to stay with you, getting rid of it is difficult. But the severity decreases gradually. 

Types of Anxiety Disorders:

Anxiety disorders are of different types. Anxiety disorders emerge when your fear and worry is crossing the line and no longer seem to be the occasional fear we have in time to time. Anxiety disorders evolve some symptoms that interfere with your daily life activities and impair your concentration. 

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The following are the types of anxiety disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Panic Disorder

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Social Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

When you start to worry about everything uncontrollably that means Generalized Anxiety Disorder captured you. Anxiety is common but reacting uncontrollably about normal life events and occurrences is strange. 

GAD continues for a specific period of time. It can be either six months or more. People with GAD always anticipate something devastating and disastrous is going to happen. They do not know what they are worried about but they worry constantly. They worry about every normal thing that is happening in their daily life.

They suffer difficulty in focusing and sleeping. They experience fatigue, exhaustion, irritability, rapid heartbeat, sweating, muscle tension, stomach ache, and diarrhea. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

Panic Disorder:

Panic attacks are sudden and intimidated. Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that involves repeated and constant episodes of anxiety, fear, and worry. They are unanticipated and out of blue. They include physical symptoms like a rapid heartbeat, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Panic attacks do not continue for a long time. Their maximum time limit is one hour. 

Pounding heart, nausea, chest pain, sweating, lightheadedness, extreme fear, numbness in feet and hands, etc. They are sudden and won’t last long but are very scary. It might feel like you are dying, your world is falling apart, etc. Panic disorder cannot be entirely cured. Panic disorders can be treated by relaxation techniques, psychotherapy, assertiveness training, etc. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of disorder when some recurrent and unnecessary thoughts rush and sit in your mind. Repetitive behaviors occupy more percent. You do things repeatedly, you check on things repeatedly, you clean constantly, etc. These ideas and sensations are unwanted and not harmful though. 

Types of OCD:

  • Contamination and washing

  • Symmetry and orderliness

  • Doubt and harm

  • Unacceptable/taboo thoughts

 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is triggered by a life-threatening event. When you witness or experience a terrifying and extremely devastating event it will disturb you further causing nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks, etc. It pulls you back into the trauma evolving emotional and physical disturbance. This results in poor concentration, anger, irritability, increased reaction of time, recurring nightmares, etc. 

If left untreated it can last for a very long time. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is believed to be the best for PTSD. 

Social anxiety:

Social anxiety is a feeling of awkwardness even among familiar people. They feel like they are closely noticed and observed. They will have a fear of activities and social interactions. They will be intimidated by the presence of other people or activities that involve interaction with others.

Social anxiety involves fear of eating in public, performing in public, speaking, writing, and reading in front of crowds. These people need active behavioral therapy groups to come out of their fears. Research says that social anxiety is curable with some therapies and patience.

It is tough to deal with a person with anxiety there are certain things you should not say to them. A few things are

  • Calm down

  • Everything will be alright

  • It is not a big deal

  • You are overreacting

  • I can feel you

  • Why are you so anxious?

Anxiety needs therapy for sure, so seek help from a therapist as soon as you can. Especially when your daily life is crashed by these disorders you highly need counseling. Suicidal thoughts also need an emergency, you are not likely to get away with them. And if your anxiety is leading you into bad habits like consumption of alcohol and drug use, you need help. 

Introspect yourself now and then, because anxiety is not a trouble-free phase.