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Anxiety Therapy near me - Inner Light Psychotherapy, Houston, TX

Anxiety Therapy

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural response to stress or perceived threats. It is characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and unease. While it’s normal to experience anxiety in certain situations, such as before an important event or during times of change, it can become problematic when it occurs frequently or excessively, even in non-threatening situations.

What are the common symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety can feel different in different bodies. Common symptoms include:

excessive worry, restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, racing thoughts, sleep problems, physical symptoms (like shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat), avoidance behavior, and cognitive difficulties.

  • excessive worry
  • restlessness
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • racing thoughts
  • sleep problems
  • physical symptoms (like shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat)
  • avoidance behavior
  • cognitive difficulties

What is polyvagal theory?

Polyvagal theory, developed by Stephen Porges, explains how the autonomic nervous system influences our responses to stress and safety. It describes three interconnected pathways: the social engagement system for connection, the sympathetic fight-or-flight response for mobilization, and the dorsal vagal complex for shutdown.

Sometimes we can get stuck in one of these states from trauma or other challenging experiences. It’s like our body gets comfortable with a certain response, and it becomes our go-to, even when it might not be the best fit for the situation. For example, some folks might find themselves stuck in fight-or-flight mode, always on high alert, even in non-threatening situations. Others might get stuck in shutdown mode, feeling numb and disconnected when things get tough.

Being aware of these patterns can help us work on finding a better balance. We can learn techniques to regulate our autonomic nervous system and shift from one state to another when needed. So, if you find yourself getting stuck in one mode, you’re not alone! With some practice and support from a therapist with a polyvagal lens, you can help your body find its way back to a healthier and more flexible response to stress and safety.

What can I do today to manage my anxiety?

There are some things you can do to feel a little bit better in the right here right now. These include:

  • Practice deep breathing
    Take a few minutes to engage in deep breathing exercises. Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Focusing on your breath can help calm your mind.
  • Engage in physical activity
    Exercise is a great way to move stuck energy in the body and release built-up tension and stress. Go for a walk, do some yoga, or engage in any form of physical activity you enjoy.
  • 5-4-3-2-1 technique
    Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Watch how this technique brings your attention to the present moment and makes you feel a little more grounded.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol
    I know, I know, we don’t love this one. But these substances can worsen anxiety symptoms, so it’s best to moderate your intake, especially if you’re feeling particularly anxious.
  • Write in a journal
    Putting your thoughts and feelings on paper can be a therapeutic way to express yourself and gain insights into your emotions.
  • Practice self-compassion
    Be kind to yourself and avoid self-criticism. Remember that everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, and it’s okay to seek help and take care of yourself.

It’s never too early or too late to reach out for help with your anxiety. Therapy can be incredibly helpful too to help you explore the root of your anxiety, develop coping mechanisms, and provide a safe space to express your thoughts and feelings.