Liza Hinchey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in private practice at Trinity Family Counseling Center. Liza completed dual Master’s degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy from Wayne State University, and works with individuals, families, and groups across a range of presenting issues.
As we approach a full year of living in this uncertain new reality, I want to talk about anxiety.
Anxiety always exists for a reason. Notice I didn’t say a good reason, but a reason, nonetheless. On a very basic level, anxiety exists to protect us and to keep us alive. It only becomes an issue because keeping us alive is often not synonymous with keeping us happy or satisfied.
Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety, like excessive worrying or a racing heart rate, happen because your brain and body are trying to prepare you to face some sort of threat. The threat may be unknown or hypothetical, but the anxiety part of our brain isn’t really able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s hypothetical. It gets you ready to panic / run / problem-solve either way.
Understanding the “why” of your anxiety can help you process it and improves the chances that it will resolve itself faster. So, the next time you feel anxious, try to think or journal about what it is your anxiety is trying to protect you from. Maybe even approach it as if you were a scientist, observing an interesting natural phenomenon. Is the anxiety trying to protect you from future pain? From embarrassment? From losing your sense of safety or self? Be curious and see what you learn! This is often one of the first steps towards long-term, lasting change in how we experience anxiety—and in how we find peace.