Usually, I say that focusing on the 'whys' of anxiety isn't very helpful. For example, the whys that aren't helpful might look like... trying to figure out why you had a panic attack, why something feels hard today when it didn't yesterday, and so on. But there is a 'why' that I think is valuable, and that's understanding why you might be struggling with anxiety! Because understanding why you're struggling with anxiety will lead you to valuable insights that will help you create a positive and healthy relationship with anxiety.
These three reasons why people struggle with anxiety are all things that I struggled with, too! And they're a big part of why I struggled with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia for fifteen years. My hope is that by shedding light on these reasons, you'll be able to heal much faster than I did! So let's get started.
3 Big Reasons Why Many People Struggle With Anxiety (with some tips!)
1. Many of Us Weren't Taught How To Have a Healthy Relationship With Our Emotions
Our caregivers play a major role in teaching us how to respond to our emotions, right? They're supposed to teach us how to navigate difficult emotions, and learn to make space for them! But when we aren't taught how to have a healthy relationship with these emotions, it can create a lot of challenges in how anxiety shows up for us. As a child, I had no idea what to do with the emotions that felt big and scary, and I did everything in my power not to feel them. Shifting your response to uncomfortable emotions is extremely important to the healing process. And the good news is that once you're aware that your relationship with your emotions needs fixing, you know exactly where to focus your anxiety recovery efforts!
2. You Might Have Experienced Chronic Stress and Overwhelm
I think we often think of a stressful event as something that's negative, like a breakup, a loss, or losing your job. But in reality, even the most exciting life events can cause a lot of stress! It's worth noting that to our brains, stress is stress, regardless of whether it's the desirable or undesirable kind. It might be moving, graduating college, getting married, or any other life change. Your body simply senses heightened stress, which can lead to anxiety and even a panic attack. And sometimes, it seems to hit you out of the blue! No matter the reason, there are always things that you have control over changing. Things like your lifestyle choices and how you respond to stress, your relationship with yourself, your relationship with your thoughts, and how you respond to difficult emotions.
And sometimes, without even realizing it, we make decisions that aren't supportive of our mental health. We might allow that stress to build up for too long, which could eventually lead to lots of anxiety and even panic attacks. Panic is simply our body's way of telling us that we need to change something, and it doesn't mean you're in danger. With action, small steps, and healthy shifts, we can develop a healthier response during seasons of high stress.
3. The Genetic Component of Anxiety
There's lots of research indicating that there's a genetic component to anxiety, so I'm sure you've heard this before! And although I do believe there is a genetic component, I also think that a lot of this ties back to reason number one. When I was first diagnosed with severe panic disorder and agoraphobia, I remember feeling so doomed. Because I knew my mom struggled with panic attacks, and my great-grandmother struggled with severe agoraphobia. I felt like my diagnosis was who I would be forever, and I really latched on to it. But here's what I want you to know... Even if there is a genetic component to anxiety, it doesn't mean that you will struggle with an anxiety disorder forever. You can still create a healthy relationship with anxiety, and you can still overcome panic disorder and agoraphobia.
As somebody who recovered seven years ago, I say this firmly! Anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia aren't life sentences. I thought my diagnosis would always be a part of me, but that simply wasn't true. And it doesn't have to be true for you either! If you're looking to get even more clear on what's contributing to your anxiety and how you can start to let go of your fears, my ten-week program Panic to Peace will be perfect for you! Panic to Peace teaches you how to heal your relationship with anxiety and live a life filled with lots more peace, joy, and freedom. You can get on the waitlist to be notified as soon as the doors to this program are open!
Make sure to tune in to this week's episode full of goodness!