Anxiety & Sleep Problems

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Is Anxiety Interfering With Your Sleep?

 

 

 

Over 18% of nation’s population experience anxiety disorders, and the majority of them have sleep –related problems. The lack of sleep can increase not only anxiety but other mood related issues such as depression, anger, irritability, and/or muscle pain. If anxiety or disrupted sleep crops up occasionally, these simple strategies may help you relax your body and mind so you can get the sleep that you need.

Sleep Hygiene

A healthy bedtime routine allows your body and mind time to slow down before lights out. Take at least half an hour to play quiet music, take a bath, or read a book. Additional suggestions are: a)Deem the lights one hour before you go to sleep; b)Avoid electronics an hour or more before your sleep time; c)Spend a few minutes before bed using diaphragmatic breathing to help relax your body and mind.

Exercise

Regular exercisers fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. In fact, even a single moderate-intensity workout can improve sleep among people with chronic anxiety. Here are some recommendations for the ones who don’t enjoy going to the gym: a)Stretch often, simple yoga exercises throughout the day will do the trick; b)Go for a walk; c) Be active at home by using an indoor trampoline

Steer clear of stressful activities before bed.

Leave the bill paying for earlier in the day, stay away from heated social media exchanges, and skip the evening news.

Put your to-dos on paper.

Instead of letting your brain swirl with all the things that you don’t want to forget to take care of, write them down so your brain can relax and let go.

It’s not always easy to tell if your symptoms are an indication of an anxiety disorder or just the normal amount of worry. Certain situations, especially the ones we don’t like, can cause our anxiety symptoms to spike. Moving, changes in relationships, financial troubles and speaking in public can all trigger these spikes. If your anxiety has spiked out of control, or has become debilitating to you by interfering with your daily life, it might be time to seek professional help.

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What Are Social Anxiety Symptoms?

Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia. The average age of onset for social anxiety disorder is during the teenage years. Some might dread meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview, answering a question in class, or having to talk to a cashier in a store, others might avoid only some of the scenarios above. Most people with social anxiety do not talk about it and might not understand why they feel fine in certain situations but not in others. Some might feel physical symptoms of anxiety in situations such as giving a speech, playing a sports game, or dancing or playing a musical instrument on stage.

Here are some of the symptoms of social anxiety when performing in front of or are around others:

  • Extreme fear of other people judging them
  • Staying away from places where there are other people they might feel judged by
  • Blush, sweat, tremble, or feel a rapid heart rate
  • Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
  • Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
  • Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward

The defining feature of social anxiety disorder is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. Because people with social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious, they often avoid social or performance situations, and when a situation cannot be avoided, they experience significant anxiety and distress.

Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, they often feel powerless against their anxiety. The first step to effective treatment is to have a diagnosis made, usually by a mental health specialist. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can prevent a person from reaching their full potential.

Making your first appointment when struggling with Anxiety

You may feel anxious about contacting a psychologist. That anxiety is perfectly normal. But having the courage to make a call is the first step in the process of empowering yourself and it may bring a sense of relief and help you not feel stuck.

Once you connect, they’ll lead a brief conversation to get a better sense of what you need and whether they are able to help and when you can make an appointment. Before you take the first available appointment here are some factors you should consider:

  • Know when you're at your best morning, afternoon, or evening, and schedule your appointment accordingly.
  • Consider work schedule and if you have to take time off from work, you might want to schedule your first appointment later in the day so you don't have to go back to work afterward. If you have an upsetting topic to discuss, you may be tired, emotionally spent, puffy-eyed or distracted after your first session.
  • Unless it is a family session, choose a time when you will have child care available.
  • Try to schedule your session at a time when you won't have to rush to your appointment or to your next commitment after the session. 

Hope this helps alleviate the anxiety of taking the first step. Best of luck!

When should you consider psychotherapy?

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Because of the many misconceptions about psychotherapy, you may be reluctant to seek help. It may be stigma, your own judgment, or you may feel nervous about trying it. Overcoming these blocks may be worth it because any time your quality of life isn’t what you want it to be, psychotherapy can help.

Some people seek psychotherapy because they have felt depressed, anxious, or angry for a long time. Others may want help for a chronic illness that is interfering with their emotional or physical well-being. Still, most people have short-term problems they need help navigating. They may be going through a divorce, having relationship concerns, feeling overwhelmed by a new job or grieving a family member's death.

You could benefit from therapy if you have any of the following concerns:

  • You feel an overwhelming, prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness.
  • Your problems don't seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends.
  • You find it difficult to concentrate on work assignments or to carry out other everyday activities.
  • You worry excessively, expect the worst and are constantly on edge.
  • Your actions, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs or being aggressive, are harming you or others.

The treatment you receive will depend on a variety of factors: current psychological research, your psychologist's theoretical orientation and what works best for your situation. The most important factor to consider is whether your psychologist has the expertise  in the area you need help with and whether your psychologist feels he or she can help you.