Is it necessary to go to psychotherapy to manage anxiety?


Sometimes it is more about stress that appears before a specific challenge that we must face at home or at work, such as reaching a productivity goal at the office or coordinating a series of household tasks to finish in the day. In other cases, it is an anxiety that keeps us in a state of alert without us knowing very well why, a discomfort with diffuse causes and that seems to use any excuse for us to be worried and with a racing pulse.

However, although all these kinds of experiences are relatively common, most often, those who suffer from them in their day to day do not seek psychotherapeutic help. This is a problem? Let’s see.

Is it necessary to go to the psychologist in the seasons when we suffer from anxiety?

First of all it is necessary to clarify that anxiety itself is not necessarily a bad thing, nor an experience that should concern us when it affects us directly. In fact, all healthy people are prone to feeling anxiety with relative frequency: it is a phenomenon that is part of the basic emotional states of the human being, and if it exists it is because it has helped us survive for millions of years.

Thanks to her, we can adopt great sensitivity to risks and dangers and react in time to avoid direct or indirect damage: It is part of an adaptive mechanism so relevant that it appeared a long time ago in the evolutionary line that reaches us, and in fact it is present in practically all vertebrate animals (and possibly in many invertebrates as well).

Thus, it is more useful to understand that anxiety problems are in a relative sense: what needs to be corrected is excess anxiety and the way in which we manage it, not the presence of anxiety. In fact, if we try to “eliminate” the anxiety we feel, we will become frustrated and therefore feel even more anxiety.

This already gives clues as to whether it is always a problem not to go to the psychologist when we notice that we have a level of anxiety that remains relatively stable for a while. The key is not to identify the presence of anxiety in us, but to determine if it is damaging our quality of life in a meaningful way.

In other words, the criteria for deciding to go to therapy should be based not on qualitatively knowing whether we experience anxiety or not, but quantitatively: is it intense or constant enough to move us away from real well-being? Remember that psychotherapy lasts for several weeks and is usually thought of as a way to overcome problems that if not addressed by specialists can continue to affect you in the medium and long term.

If you think that is not your case, you can always learn some guidelines to manage anxiety on your own.

And what about anxiety disorders?

It is true that not everything comes down to having little or a lot of anxiety. After all, there are what are known as anxiety disorders, which are psychopathologies in which anxiety and stress compromise mental health of the person who suffers them (and by extension, also their physical health).

However, from the point of view of someone who is considering whether to go to psychotherapy or not and who has no training in psychotherapy or psychiatry, it is more advisable not to obsess over these concepts. It is mental health professionals who diagnose psychological disordersIn general, it is convenient not to get obsessed with these “labels” used in Clinical Psychology and limit ourselves to assessing our own satisfaction with life and the way in which anxiety influences it or not.

Establishing the degree of anxiety discomfort

Look at these guidelines to determine if you need psychological help before anxiety:

  • Is the way you try to relieve anxiety (bingeing, pulling your hair, smoking …) hurt you?
  • Does anxiety stay high enough for hours at a time?
  • Do peaks of anxiety lead you to notice that you lose control over your body?
  • Does anxiety go hand in hand with disturbing thoughts or even suicidal ideation?
  • Does anxiety lead you to have problems trying to avoid certain normal day-to-day situations?
  • Does anxiety give you very intense physical symptoms?

What can I do if it still doesn’t pay me to go to therapy?

If you think that anxiety does not harm you enough to go to psychotherapy, you can always try to apply some psychological keys on your own that, although they are clearly less effective than professional support in the consultation of a psychologist, can help you. Here are some examples of those recommended behavior patterns and habits.

1. Lead a healthy life

The better you are physically, the less likely you are to suffer high levels of anxiety easily. Above all, give great importance to getting enough sleep, and also eat from a healthy diet that provides you with all the vitamins and macronutrients you need.

2. Don’t try to block the discomfort

As I advanced before, trying to prevent anxiety from entering our mind is totally counterproductive. It is better that you practice acceptance and give up having total and absolute control over what happens in your consciousness, and rather focus on directing your attention to things that give you satisfaction or that are stimulating.

3. Get aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is a great help to prevent and combat anxiety, both due to the release of hormones linked to physical activity and the fact that it induces you to a mental state in which you must focus your attention towards immediate goals and the bodily sensations associated with it, therefore that the intrusive thoughts that have been worrying you will gradually weaken and you will be able to “disconnect”.

4. Plan your schedules well

The tendency to waste time and postpone responsibilities is a great source of anxiety, and in times when the digital world constantly exposes us to distractions, it is very common to fall into these types of errors. To prevent situations like this, create detailed schedules that include rest breaks, so that you can meet them and they are realistic (so that you can commit more to them).

5. Get trained

There are somewhat more elaborate techniques and strategies that can help you combat moderately high levels of anxiety in your day-to-day life, and in this sense, courses and workshops focused on this area of ​​emotional management can help you.

If you are interested in starting a course that deals with this topic, I invite you to participate in the online course that I teach from my more than 25 years of experience as a psychologist: “Anxiety Management”. You can contact me to receive more information about this and other training programs.

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