Is This Anxiety?

Picture this: you’re sitting at work and all of the sudden you have a racing heart, you start to feel sick, and you’re looking around wondering if something bad is going to happen. But why? You know you’re safe. This could be anxiety taking over, my friend.

Symptoms of anxiety can manifest differently depending upon the person. Whether you’re feeling:

  • easily irritable
  • on edge
  • indecisive
  • exhibiting restless behaviors
  • having difficulty sleeping
  • experiencing a racing heart
  • having intrusive thoughts telling you that “you’re not enough” or “nobody understands you”

You are not alone! Even if at times you’re fearful you’re “losing your mind.”

It can feel downright isolating and defeating when your support system then tells you:

“Calm down.”
“It’s not a big deal!”
“It’s all in your head.”
“Just think positive.”
“Don’t worry!”
“Just breathe.”


Although these are often failed attempts intended to show support- it actually tends to feel dismissive in the moment and can reinforce the embedded fear that there is something inherently wrong with you.

However- anxiety doesn’t have to be a negative, scary emotion that needs to be avoided or swept under the rug! Anxiety is not evidence of brokenness or weakness. Rather, anxiety is simply energy in the body and serves as a messenger- if we’re open to hearing it.

Panic, rumination, and intrusive thoughts are opportunities to look into our inner world in order to heal. When we’re able to first practice strategies such as mindfulness and deep breathing to calm our central nervous system, we are then able to make a conscious shift from fighting against the anxiety to becoming curious about our internal experiences. Through identifying our thought patterns and core beliefs, we are able to then reframe and recreate our narratives- which can be incredibly transformative!

So next time anxiety gets loud…

Reassure yourself:

“I’m safe and it’s okay to feel whatever emotion arises.”
“My experiences and reactions are valid even if it feels as though others don’t understand.”
“I’m holding space for myself to feel these emotions without judging myself for it.”

Ask yourself: “What do I need in this moment?”

Give yourself space to feel the feelings, then find a healthy coping skill. For example, going for a short walk, dancing for 5 minutes, or petting your animal!

Most importantly…

Meet yourself with compassion and curiosity instead of judgment.

Be gentle with yourself – you’re further along on your healing journey than you may realize!

If you would like some assistance on your journey with anxiety, give us a call, we’re here to help!

About Shelby Negro

Shelby Negro, LLPC, earned her B.S. in Psychology from Grand Valley State University and has completed graduate coursework at Western Michigan University. She specializes in treating anxiety, ADHD, low self-esteem and depression in teens and young adults. She also works with adults living with chronic pain and somatic symptom disorders. She has worked in mental health for more than a decade, including as a psychometrist at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, and advocates for undeserved and vulnerable populations. She is supervised by Rosann Raftery, LPC at Lifeologie Counseling Grand Rapids Cascade.

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