Stress and Anxiety

Why is anxiety affecting me so much?

Most people have some experience with stress and anxiety.  We have worries about the future, about security in finances and relationships.  Even with positive life transitions, like a new home or a new job, it is expected that we would feel some physiological stress as our system adapts to the new environment.

The difficulty arises, when anxiety and stress start interfering with our quality of life and wellbeing.  Anxiety can come on suddenly in a very intense, physical panic.  It can also take the form of continuous worry, and pre-occupation.  Sometimes there are triggers that are known and familiar to us, but other times it seems to come out of the blue.  What might start off as a desire to problem solve, can quickly lead to mental fixations that cause us to stay in a fight, flight or freeze state most of the time.  It doesn’t take too long before sleep is effected, and that in turn worsens anxiety.

Withdrawing from life to control anxiety

Chronic stress and anxiety are very distressing experiences.  They spiral within our bodies and thoughts and make us lose confidence in our ability to feel “ok” in our daily lives.  This, in turn, leads many people to withdraw and limit their experiences to protect themselves from situations that may cause anxiety.  While these kinds of limits may feel partially effective, they can also make us feel trapped and limited in life.

A nervous system in high alert

Our bodies are designed to go into high alert when there is a threat.  This is very helpful if a person or animal needs to extend themselves for matters of survival.  We go into fight or flight, and if those are deemed unsuitable, then we go into freeze.  In the case of unwanted stress and anxiety, our bodies are sending us into these states when it seems unhelpful or causes problems.  Many modern day problems are not easily solved with the fight/flight/freeze system, but for some people it is a bodily response that is very hard to turn off.  We end up with too much activation and have a hard time relaxing and getting calm.  We may feel jumpy, irritable or easily angered.  We may fluctuate between hyper-arousal and numbness.

The good news: anxiety responds to counselling

The good news about anxiety is that it responds very well to counselling and therapy.  People assume that their anxiety will only settle once the external stress goes away, but this isn’t true.  Once we explore and understand your unique pattern of anxiety, I can help you practice a wide range of skills and exercises that allow your body to self-regulate and come down more easily from expected stress responses.  As you make these changes, they will inspire confidence in your ability to reduce unwanted anxiety  and you will feel less fear about the anxiety itself.  We will use our time in counselling to assist your mind and your nervous system to both consciously and automatically shift the unhelpful patterns that have developed.

Why Am I Anxious?

There are many causes of anxiety, and the causes can build up and reinforce each other over time.  Common causes of anxiety include:

  • Current Stress: At work, at school, in a close personal relationship, finances, security, significant medical illness
  • Trauma and Threat: emotional/physical abuse, relationship abuse, assault,  accidents, natural disasters, medical procedure, death of a loved one
  • Childhood abuse, childhood neglect, childhood bullying: these impact how we interpret our environment and how easy it is to feel safe with people
  • Symptoms of medical illness or imbalance: examples with heart attack, hypoglycaemia, heat stroke and hyperthyroid
  • Side effect of some medication
  • Use stimulants such as caffeine, speed, cocaine
  • Some biological factors: we can genetically more pre-disposed to increased anxiety responses or sensitivity to perceived risk
  • Some learned factors: we can learn patterns of worrying and feeling threatened in childhood from adults with excessive anxiety responses

Some Common Signs of Anxiety and Panic:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Feeling of choking/chest pain/nausea
  • Feeling of fight, flight, or freeze
  • Prolonged or exaggerated worrying
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Nightmares

Make an appointment for counselling:

Click here to learn about how to reach me for an appointment.

Even if you can relate to some of this description it can be very beneficial to seek support to prevent it from escalating into a bigger problem.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I can be reached by email at or phone at 250-509-1092.  I offer a free 20-minute initial meeting to help you get a sense of the process and my fit for you.