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  • Writer's pictureMyriame Lyons

How To Live With Anxiety

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

While anxiety is not new, there are many different ways of successfully "dealing with it". Whether that's through self-help books, podcasts, online forums, in-person support groups, or counselling, treating anxiety is not linear.

woman sitting on bench looking anxious

As a counsellor in Vancouver, I have learned over the years that anxiety is not always bad. From an evolution standpoint, anxiety (the feeling of fear, worry or apprehension about what's the come) has helped us to survive in our environment. It is our natural response to stress. In the 21st century, the primal instinct that once helped us escape a gorilla attack may not need to be used in the same way.

If anxiety gets in the way of your performance at work or school, or interferes with your relationships with family and friends, you may want to talk with a healthcare professional. Even if it's not getting in the way of your life, but you feel more stressed than usual, you may find relief in talking with someone. For some, anxiety may be situational and short lived. For others, it may be generalized and long term. When you reach out to a professional, they can help you find the source of the anxiety, and help you learn to cope better.

Anxiety disorders are distinct in some ways, but they all share the same hallmark features:

  • irrational and excessive fear

  • apprehensive and tense feelings

  • difficulty managing daily tasks and/or distress related to these tasks.

Cognitive, behavioural and physical symptoms include:

  • anxious thoughts (e.g., “I’m losing control” )

  • anxious predictions (e.g., “I’m going to fumble my words and humiliate myself”)

  • anxious beliefs (e.g., “Only weak people get anxious”)

  • avoidance of feared situations (e.g., driving)

  • avoidance of activities that elicit sensations similar to those experienced when anxious (e.g., exercise)

  • subtle avoidances (behaviours that aim to distract the person, e.g., talking more during periods of anxiety)

  • safety behaviours (habits to minimize anxiety and feel “safer,” e.g., always having a cell phone on hand to call for help)

  • excessive physical reactions relative to the context (e.g., heart racing and feeling short of breath in response to being at the mall).

The physical symptoms of anxiety may be mistaken for symptoms of a physical illness, such as a heart attack.

Some of the helpful ways that clients have successfully learned to live with anxiety are:

  1. Realizing that this anxious moment will pass.

  2. Knowing that you can do hard things.

  3. Speaking kindly to yourself (aka "This is an anxious moment. I can get through it")

  4. Using your breath to calm down your nervous system.

  5. Using the Butterfly Hug as a physical calming tool.

There are many healthcare professionals out there successfully helping people cope with anxiety. My approach to Anxiety Counselling comes from an integrative model of well-being. If you are looking for help with your anxiety, contact me. We can book a session to explore ways for you to cope better, or I can provide you recommendations for other trusted counsellors.

Stay strong,



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