941-462-4807 meg@megyounglcsw.com

anxiety Nobody likes negative feelings. Feelings such as sadness, overwhelm, irritability, and fear are uncomfortable and it is natural to want to avoid discomfort. The fact is, these emotions are part of being alive and all emotions have a purpose. The problem is when the negative emotions seem to come more frequently than the positive ones. When this happens, we try even harder to avoid those feelings.
However, when we spend so much time trying to avoid our feelings, it will end up affecting us anyway. We can only stuff emotions for so long before the bottle overflows. We can only pretend something isn’t wrong for so long before it becomes obvious to others.
The snags to stuffing our emotions and pretending they don’t exist include angry outbursts, relationship problems, sleep problems, headaches, gastro-intestinal problems, and more. It is not only an emotional problem, but a physical problem and causes strain in our friendships and in our families.
Not only does stuffing our emotions affect our relationships and health, we start to withdraw from things we once enjoyed, we start to see only the negative sides of life, we start to feel hopeless, irritable, stressed, overwhelmed, and often we start to feel “crazy.”
The problem with stuffing emotions is it always seems fine to begin with. It is even easy to do at first. It seems logical and even helpful. You are able to go about your day, and enjoy your work and your family. Bit by bit things start to change, and you may not notice the small changes. You go to sleep a few minutes earlier, your clothes are just a bit tight, you miss one family activity, but due to work conflicts. Over time these small changes start making an impact on you and start happening more and more until your significant other points it out. Or maybe your children’s behavior changed. Unfortunately, you still didn’t see it as a problem and continued what you were doing.
At the time, it might have been easy to blow off…until now. At this point you realize that they are right; that you have changed; that you are not yourself. However, it is still easier to externalize the blame – work is very stressful right now. This or that has changed. Once xyz slows down, things will go back to normal and so will you.
Unfortunately, externalizing the blame and not letting yourself release the pressure is just causing more and more stress to build up. It is just making it worse. You continue to stuff the emotions and explain away the behaviors and don’t look at the root cause.
Eventually it caught up with you and you start looking for a solution to the tip of the iceberg. You try over the counter sleep medication, meditation, relaxation, music, no screen time before bed, but nothing is working. You found yourself in a place of utter chaos and upheaval. Nothing seems to be helpful anymore. You are willing to do just about anything to feel normal again. Maybe you went so far as to do something unethical or inappropriate already. Or maybe you’ve just thought about it. “Wouldn’t it be nice if I just…”
The truth is, nobody likes to feel this out of control. Nobody likes to feel the intense, ongoing, negative emotions. It completely normal to want to do something you know you “shouldn’t” or otherwise would never do. It is completely normal to have “crazy” thoughts about doing something to make the pain stop and feel normal again.
When the stress and chaos in your mind has become this intense, you are willing to do anything to make it go away. We are not meant to struggle with this much. Who can handle all of this? How am I supposed to do this for the rest of my life?
Here’s the deal. If we can learn how to take stop putting bandaids on the problem and start stitching the cut, the bleeding will stop. If we can understand why this is happening, we can prevent it from continuing. When we do just a few things every day, we can take care of the wound and stop the bleeding. It takes only a couple minutes per day to start feeling “normal” again. When you set aside just a few minutes every day, it is entirely possible to regain control of your mind and your life.
Keep reading for 3 tips so you can start feeling like yourself again quickly
One of the worst parts of feeling this overwhelmed is the hopelessness that often goes along with it. The fact is the brain cannot focus on being overwhelmed and happy at the same time. Additionally, the brain is wired for survival, so if the options are happy and overwhelmed, the brain will focus overwhelm in order to help you stay alive.
The problem with the brain being wired for survival like this is it can take over. The overwhelm not only does not take a break, but often compounds on itself until it weighs too much. Then hopelessness often sets in. This can take the form of depression, irritability, sarcasm, lack of energy, lack of motivation, lack of desire, frustration, an “I give up” attitude, or other feelings and thoughts.
Living this way is exhausting. The longer an electronic device is left on, the sooner it dies. Similarly, the longer our brains are on overdrive, the sooner we get burnt out. There is so much energy usage by our brains and bodies when we are dealing with constant overwhelm.
Nothing goes 100% smoothly all the time, but the one thing I know for sure is when you let go of the stress and buildup of your day, your life will go more according to YOUR plan. You have the potential to bring some relief to this crazy life.
When we make a conscious effort to stop doing what we’ve been doing and start taking care of our needs, we find that the wound is no longer just temporarily being dealt with, but more permanently being dealt with. Although this may leave a scar on our minds, scars are just wounds that have healed. We have the possibility to live life according to our terms again.
You have the opportunity to make a change in your life that will make things better for you. It will take time. It will not be easy. But many of life’s worthwhile lessons take time and are difficult. One thing I know for sure about our critical care givers (first responders, medical professionals, court professionals) is you have strength many people only dream of.
Whereas you may be feeling like it is pointless to try and do anything; after all, you have tried several things to no avail, I promise there is a way back into the calm, control and order you’ve been longing for. The key to achieving this calmness and control is to not give up too soon. The brain is set to survival. Anxiety tells the brain that something is wrong, which makes the brain go on overdrive to keep you safe. We just need to convince the brain that you are safe and in control.
This is not as difficult as it may seem. The important thing to keep in mind is don’t give up too soon. You have been putting bandaids on for so long, it just seems like the only rational thing to do. However, as you can tell it is not working. It is time to stich it up. The techniques are relatively easy, but there is no overnight cure. Nobody likes feeling this way all the time, and I know that you want to have a quick fix. If you understand that it will take time, you will achieve the freedom you’ve been longing for.
Take a look at these 3 tips to keep in mind when you are ready to do just about anything to get rid of the pain and stress
One of the problems with anxiety and overwhelm is stated above: Your brain is set to survival. When you are anxious, it becomes stuck in survival mode and all you can think about is the issue(s) at hand. Being the brain is set to survival, it does not want to stop being anxious. It wants to protect you. It makes complete sense that it feels near impossible to stop these thoughts.
Instead of feeling hopeless and believing that nothing will change, try setting aside 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at the end of the day thinking of 3 things you are grateful for. There is a lot of research proving when you sandwich your day with positives, it calms the stress in the brain. My clients and I figure out how to carve out this time regularly as doing new things is never easy at the beginning.
It doesn’t matter how small or obvious what you are grateful for is, it still interrupts the hamster wheel your brain is in at the moment. Chemical reactions happen in the brain when you think of something positive. Add smiling to this techniques and it increases the chemical reactions in the brain making the technique work even better.
Another very helpful technique to calming the anxious brain is to practice some quick relaxation techniques (taking 2-3 deep breaths, doing a quick full body stretch, etc) 200 times per day. It takes less than 5 seconds to do these techniques and they can be done anywhere anytime without anyone thinking anything odd about what you are doing. The more you do something, the quicker you improve.
We need to retrain the brain to realize everything is ok and constantly being in anxiety/overwhelm mode is not only unhelpful and unproductive, but damaging. When we get anxious, we unconsciously tense our muscles as this helps prepare us for action if we are in danger. When our muscles are frequently used like this, muscle memory takes over and the new normal for the muscles is to be tight.
Retraining our muscles to be relaxed takes a lot of practice. Survival is so important that the brain likes to ensure we are ready at a moment’s notice. My clients and I discuss the rationale for doing these techniques in more detail, then come up with several quick, easy techniques that they can practice 200 times per day.
When you practice these techniques frequently throughout the day you will start to feel different. You will notice a difference in your mind as well as in your body. Once you start to notice this change, you may be tempted to stop as things are getting better. Now is not the time! Your brain will go right back to its old behaviors. Now is the time to ingrain these new behaviors into your mind. Keep it up!
Finally, when you are ready to just throw in the towel and do just about anything to make this all go away, it is vital to get out of this hamster wheel through distraction. Force your thoughts in a different direction.
The first thing you need to do when noticing anxiety/overwhelm brain taking over is do a very quick relaxation. After that, it is time to move your thoughts to something else. The more you allow your thoughts to stay where they are, the more the brain is convinced that it needs to stay in anxiety mind.
I help my clients work through the barriers such as “I’ve tried this” and “It won’t work” so they are ready, willing, and able to do this distraction. It does work. This I promise.
The first technique here is something to do every single day as a new lifestyle. Our thoughts guide our emotions. The more positive thoughts we insert, the more positive we will feel. The second technique adds value to the first technique and should be thought of as a mantra. It is quick, easy, and important. The third technique will pull everything together and make your brain fully regain control of calmness and control.
Achieving this level of calm and control will take time, but it will be the best investment of your time every day. You will feel better emotionally and physically. You absolutely can get the control back that you have been longing for at this time. Meg Young, LCSW, PLLC can help as I specialize in first responders, medical professionals, and court professionals, all who deal with people’s pain every day and have unique needs to get your goals met.
Call me today to start gaining control back. I look forward to hearing from you!