Article by Joshua Laff, Clinical Social Worker at Openspaceclinic. 

“Have you ever had thoughts or feelings that you can’t shake off, or worries that never seem to go away?  Have you found yourself feeling afraid, but are having difficulties pinpointing exactly what it is you’re afraid of? If so, then you might very well be dealing with anxiety.

The good news is, you’re not the only one. In fact, we all deal with anxiety, but we all experience it differently and with various levels of intensity.  When left unchecked, it can have a significant impact on many aspects of your being, including your self-esteem, your relationships with others, your work life, and even your sex life.

You might also notice physical symptoms or behavioural changes in yourself, including irritability, a lack of motivation or sense of fatigue, difficulties focusing, sleeping, headaches and stomach aches, as well as a general soreness or tenseness. In more severe manifestations of anxiety, some might also experience panic attacks.

But why do we come to develop these thoughts and feelings? While every situation is unique, there are factors in our lives which can worsen anxiety, or contribute to its development.  These can include traumatic experiences, relationship problems, other health issues, financial problems, substance use, or work and study related stressors. Knowing all that, it can nonetheless remain challenging to figure out exactly where our anxiety stems from, and how to begin tackling it to begin making meaningful improvements in our lives.

That’s where seeking help from a professional counselor or psychotherapist help can make a difference. They can help you to explore your triggers and some of the underlying causes for your anxiety, and to ultimately accompany you in developing coping techniques or strategies so that you can manage your daily life effectively. In some circumstances, a professional can also provide appropriate testing to determine if your anxiety warrants more intensive levels of professional or medical assistance. If you’ve started to notice that your thoughts and worries aren’t shaking away like they used to, that they are influencing your behaviour,  are preventing you from going about your day, or are preventing you from feeling fulfilled, these are all signs that it may be worthwhile to reach out to a professional to explore it further. In the meantime, the key is to be patient and kind with yourself. With time, the right strategies, and professional help (if needed), it can become more manageable.”