Lifestyle Change

Brilliant Ways To Manage High Functioning Anxiety

by: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

Anxiety affects over 40 million people worldwide, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It is one of the top 3 reasons people come into therapy. When you think about anxiety you usually correlate it with easily flustered, nervous, scared, and constricted because of impossible thoughts about uncertain outcomes. All of the above is true, but most recently we’ve seen an increase in successful clients at Kensho Psychotherapy, who can achieve high levels of success because of their anxiety, but still find themselves unhappy, anxious, and overwhelmed. High-functioning anxiety is the term used to describe folks who are ambitious, high achievers, and also anxious. Didn’t know that was a thing did you? Well, it is. You would be surprised to know that anxiety for them is constant and unpleasant, even though their accomplishments make it seem like everything is extraordinary. They however, secretly can’t enjoy their success, and are constantly at war with themselves and relentless expectations.

So how do you know if this is you? It may look like this:

• To-do lists for the to-do list
• Always expecting the worst in terms of your performance despite prior success (those are conveniently forgotten)
• A high demand for excellence that may show up as perfectionism
• Mental and physical exhaustion
• Constant overthinking or worry
• Jam-packed schedule due to an inability to say “no”
• The Workaholic – staying late to do just one more thing and not hesitating to take work home
• Never satisfied with gains and already thinking about what’s next
• Procrastination galore
• A clandestine fear of failure

 

Are you thinking, “Yes that is me?.” Often those who suffer from high functioning anxiety may ask themselves, “How did I get here?”. It can evolve from genetics, brain chemistry, or in response to personal life events (like a deep fear of failing and becoming like your parents, or underlying feelings of shame or guilt related to a trauma, so you work hard, ALL THE TIME) and is often an automatic process that is out your control.

Regardless of the reason, it’s not your fault! You may not have total control over the chemical make-up of your brain, and you certainly didn’t choose your life circumstances, but now it’s up TO YOU to figure it out.

 

This is where brilliance comes in to restore balance:

1. Get grounded. Clear your mind and recharge your energy by practicing techniques such as deep breathing and focusing on the present. When you are fully present, or have the mental dexterity to bring yourself back using your breath, it reduces anxiety. Think of it as training your mind to come back to center or back “home.”

Let’s practice:
Follow Your Breath

Dim the lights or close your eyes, and as you inhale (big breath in), trace the air as it enters your nose or mouth and goes into your lungs, and as you exhale (release), follow the air leaving your lungs and exiting your nose or mouth. Repeat for a few breaths.

This grounding technique gets more effective with practice. The key is to pay attention to your breathing, notice if your mind wanders, and if it does, say “that’s ok” and gently bring it back to the breath. Let your body lead and your mind will follow. Set a timer and try it for 2-3 minutes and build your practice from there.

Pause and Regroup

2. Evaluate your lifestyle – Gain the upper hand by treating your body like the queen or king that it is. Commit to going to bed an hour earlier every day this week to get more sleep (ok, pick one night to start), get in at least one healthy meal (go light on the carbs), and embrace some form of exercise. These slight changes are rejuvenating and helps you better tackle the mental mind field of anxiety.

Repeating to yourself “you got this” or another mantra while doing deep breathing exercises may be effective to reduce the experience of anxiety.

3. Utilize mantras – a positive personal statement that counters those unhelp automatic thoughts like “I’m never going to be successful” or “I messed up”. It can work wonders on one’s self-esteem, confidence, and even create a calming effect for you and your frazzled nerves. Try one like: “I am ____” and fill in the blank with what you need, like capable or strong. You can also try one of acknowledgment and reassurance, like “I am scared and I’m going to do this anyway”. There are even apps for this, so get connected and be consistent with your practice.

4. Practice saying “no” – often those with high-functioning anxiety overextend themselves by saying yes to every invitation thrown their way. Do yourself a favor and say “no thanks” every once in a while. You don’t even need to explain yourself or feel bad about it because having a healthy mind and choosing you first is reason enough.

5. Ask for help – You may be thinking, “I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems.” Many who struggle with these issues suffer in silence. Keep in mind that while deep breathing and affirmations go a long way, at some point you have to tackle the core issues you are probably avoiding. This is where therapy is dope and can help anxiety sufferers understand their love hate relationship with anxiety, unpack core beliefs, and teach how to break up with anxiety and enjoy your success. You deserve that.

 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is located in Valley Stream, NY and specializes in Anxiety, Depression, and Trauma. Amanda Fludd LCSW-R is the Executive Director.

Finding A Therapist That Works For You

So, you’ve finally decided it’s time to see a therapist, only to find out there are many types of professionals, including Psychiatrists, Social Workers, LCSW’s, Ph.D’s, and MHC’s, who address many issues like childhood trauma, depression after a job loss, managing a break up, life transitions and more, which can make the search confusing. It’s important to know it can take a bit of research, time, trial and error, and patience.

To help you better navigate finding a therapist or mental health provider, we have compiled a super easy list below. Several professionals across the U.S. have joined in collaboration of this project, including Amanda Fludd, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-R) and NYC Therapist, to give you all the tools you need to navigate the challenging task of finding a psychotherapist.

 

  1. Start with a Licensed Professional. A licensed professional means the person in front of you has had to meet a standard of supervised training and education and took an exam designated by their State governing body to earn their license. Their license usually also requires them to take additional training to maintain their license, so they are constantly learning and growing. If someone is unlicensed, you will want to ask if they are supervised by a licensed professional (get their name and research them), and how that would work in your case. Some limited permit holders or interns are examples of unlicensed professionals who can help, if they have quality supervision and regular oversight to best address your

 

  1. The fit. Knowing yourself and the type of person you best respond to is essential in this process. For example, if you’ve experienced a traumatic experience with a male, you may not be ready to talk openly and honestly with a male therapist. In general, you want to feel comfortable with your When looking for one, something about their description when researching should speak to your need. Fit is important to us at Kensho Psychotherapy Services. From the initial consult, we are listening to your needs and assessing who on the team would be a good fit.

We always recommend staying with your therapist for at least two months to see if a working therapeutic relationship can develop where you are open, you’ve developed goals, and feel like you are doing work in therapy. Therapy is a beautiful working process, and sometimes it’s just not the right fit for the client and therapist. You as the client, may also come to realize you may not be ready to commit to the time therapy requires, or face deep emotional work, and on the other hand, the therapist may recognize your needs like complex trauma, anxiety or chronic depression are out their scope of practice, and in that case refer you out. If you just want general support and direction, and less intensive work, you may benefit more from a counselor, that unlicensed intern, or a life coach. At Kensho Psychotherapy we treat the difficult and offer deep connections and strategies and specifically specialize in general anxiety, depression, trauma work and minority mental health.

  1. Be patient. As more people are looking for therapy, it means there may be wait-lists and trouble getting through to someone on the other line. It helps to reach out to multiple providers that may be a fit and leave a message with your concern, type of insurance, and the best number that you can be reached. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach the first person you call. Other places to look include Psychologytoday.com, Therapy for Black Girls, or just reach out to us here, and we will do our best to connect you.

4. I’ve found someone, now what? It is important to know that everyone is nervous for the first                                 appointment and your therapist will be asking you lots of questions to figure out what’s going on, and if                     they can help. You can also ask questions too because you need to know if this is a potential match for you                 as well. Just go right with this list and ask:

  • Have you treated other clients with my particular issue?
  • Do you have a niche you enjoy working with? What about a particular clinical approach? Can you tell me more about that?
  • What will sessions look like?
  • What happens if I’m not comfortable, and this isn’t working out, how would we end services?
  • How long have you been practicing and are you a licensed professional?
  • If unlicensed, what has your training looked like and are you under supervision? Can I have your supervisors name.
  • Is it easy to reach you, how can I reach you in an emergency, or non-emergency?

 

Therapy isn’t always pretty; it’s work. With these tips, you are well on your way to finding a good connection on your journey to a healthier and more balanced you.

 

The Kensho Psychotherapy Team

Sometimes I Sit and Wish I Was A Kid Again

Feelings of nostalgia are common when remembering the care-free days of childhood, when we couldn’t wait to grow up. Those were idle moments, when our spirits were light and the possibilities were endless before trading in books in our backpacks for responsibility.

Our imaginations knew no bounds- we were pirates who conquered the sea, or scared but brave kids who went past the invented line down the block that your parents told you not to cross. As kids, we had incredible capacity to dream and create before we grew up and the world dictated how our stories should go.

If your imagination were a muscle, would you say that it grew with over time or has it become weaker over time? The sad truth is that, as we grow up, the world places more emphasis on reality and because of that our creative power diminishes and we become slaves to routine and the norm. Ever wonder how we might get back to that place of freedom and wide-open curiosity? Is it even possible to reconnect with our inner child in order to repair the damage that societal pressures have caused? Absolutely! We can strengthen that muscle that has weakened over time.

By tapping back into our own originality, creative visualization, and spending time in free-spirited play, and embracing all that is possible in this moment right now, it is possible to once again view the world (and ourselves) as we did when we were kids.

Buckle up! The Way to Rekindle Your Relationship with Your Inner Child Is About to Be Revealed …

1. Drop the leather brief case and go play – go for a bike ride, escape around the block before your kids notice, or take 5 minutes on a swing set. Photo by Malcolm Garretfrom @malcolmgaret

Photo by Malcolm Garret from Pexels

2. Train that imagination muscle – make time to think of scenarios outside of reality that bring you joy. Write down what your dream life looks like.  Have fun envisioning a lifestyle that appears impossible to achieve in as much color and description as you can and put it up somewhere you can see it.

3. Get creative – color a picture, throw some paint on a blank canvas, mash up some playdough…anything that has minimal rules involved and will give you a feeling of freedom.

4. Ask yourself – what brings me joy? Sit for a moment and plot out a list of things that you like to do regularly and would like to do if you had more time. Maybe it’s going for a walk, cooking, hot yoga, horseback riding, karaoke, playing an instrument, window shopping, or checking out a Broadway play. Collect a list of your toys and then schedule a play date with yourself!

5. Borrow a kid– If you have access to your own kids, or maybe can borrow one, like your niece or godchildren, put down your phone and join them in what they love to do. Ask them why they love it and play without judgment in their space if even just for 20 minutes and see what magic happens for them and you. If you don’t have access to a kid, then who else can you recruit as a partner in crime? 

Charles Bukowski once said, “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

Taking time out of our lives to reconnect with our inner child gives us room to strengthen our sense of self.  Not only does it crack the door to self-discovery, but it totally kicks it in and demolishes all the walls that were around it (walls created by ourselves and our perceptions of what the world wants us to be). Learning how to be a kid again is the ticket to remembering our authentic selves and allows us to gift our uniqueness and originality back to the world.

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R @Kensho Psychotherapy #Therapyisdope

A Trauma Focused Approach for Care Takers

Traumatic events are one of those things that can feel more like a tsunami in your life, followed by less intense tidal waves. For those who experience trauma, particularly young people, even though the event is over, the impact never goes away in the form of unwanted memories, nightmares, constant triggers like sounds, difficulty trusting, and so forth, causing those waves to come back without warning and control.  Survivors of trauma struggle to cope with their internal process and external circumstances the best way they can. Survivors often express mixed feeling about dealing with trauma, even if they’re fully aware its impact on their lives. They may avoid revisiting their pasts or other potential therapy out of fear of experiencing distress again. Education plays an important role in understanding the experience and by developing your coping tools and learning to regulate the experience from within you can regain control again.

As supporters of young people who have experienced trauma its important to acknowledge their feelings and experiences even if you disagree. Remember, trauma is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation and how they deal with it often originate from a need to survive.  To better connect with those in that constant state of chaos let’s start shifting our approach from, “What is wrong with you?” to, “What has happened to you?” or What has worked for you?” or by taking a closer look at what you can do differently to bring about a sense of calm again.

For a free handout on the signs of trauma and coping with a traumatic event see here.

Beating The Fear of Change

They say change is constant, but what happens when it comes so fast you can’t quiet catch your footing? Some people take it as a challenge embracing a new adventure and for others it steals their sleep and leaves their minds in agony with endless what if scenario’s triggering anxiety, avoidance, or opposition.

The question lingering in the back of our minds when faced with change is, “can I really handle this?” When the answer is “yes”, we are unphased and ready, maybe even overjoyed. When it’s “no”, we trigger our internal stress reaction; a reaction that is both physical (like sweaty palms, stomach aches, or a racing heart that prepares us for ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ response) and within our minds (enter in feelings like anxiety, sadness or maybe racing thoughts).

The funny thing about change: we don’t really know what will happen. The many what if questions are a figment of our imaginations causing real physical and emotional reactions. Add in judgmental beliefs abouteverything catastrophic that can happen and we fuel the fire even more. The truth is we just don’t know much about what will be and sometimes its just to observe our thoughts and feelings about change, look at it with curiosity, slow down, catch our rhythm, and stay in the moment. Just stay in this moment right now. Embrace the wave. This is all I can handle right now.

Brilliant Ways To Manage High Functioning Anxiety

by: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R Anxiety affects over 40 million people worldwide, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association …

Finding A Therapist That Works For You

So, you’ve finally decided it’s time to see a therapist, only to find out there are many types of professionals, …

Sometimes I Sit and Wish I Was A Kid Again

Feelings of nostalgia are common when remembering the care-free days of childhood, when we couldn’t wait to grow up. Those …