teen girl looking at her phone while in a coffee shop

Adulting Anxiety Is Real: 4 Tips To Ease These Worries

Kids of all ages can be heard longing to be an adult. When that time arrives, they’ll have more freedom. Of course, with that freedom comes plenty more responsibilities and expectations. After years of waiting to turn 18, young people are faced with an increasing number of challenges. In fact, a 2021 study found over 70 percent of Americans believe today’s young adults have it much harder than the past few generations.

You see, your 18th or 21st birthday does not automatically mean you’re ready to fully start adulting. In some ways, the transition can feel natural. However, the overall process requires support, patience, and commitment.

Why is Adulting Anxiety So Common?

Social norms in the U.S. dictate that kids flip a switch when they “officially” become adults. Here are just some of the anxiety-causing factors that can prevent such a rapid transformation:

  • There are so many adulting basics to learn, e.g. hygiene, laundry, doing taxes, writing a resume, finding a job, paying bills, pursuing a degree, and so much more
  • Forming adult connections with friends, co-workers, bosses, teachers, neighbors, and romantic partners
  • Pressure to succeed
  • Competing with peers
  • Loneliness from not living with your family anymore
  • Navigating a heavily divided society

Adulting anxiety is real. You’re not alone and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. And fortunately, there are fundamental personal steps you can take to ease the transition.

4 Tips To Ease Adulting Anxiety

1. Resist the Temptation to Lose Faith

Anxiety is a persistent liar. It will bombard you with untruths designed to hold you back. Sure, when entering an entirely new phase of your life, you will be expected to take on new challenges. With those new challenges, you will have to deal with some setbacks along the way. Anxiety may tell you that avoidance is the safest choice.

Productive adulting requires you to tolerate some discomfort. This is how you learn new skills. It’s also how you discover what you do and don’t like, and what you’re good at. When adulting challenges arrive, view them as part of a process and not a final judgment on yourself. Don’t lose faith.

2. Follow Your Heart

Very well-meaning people may aggressively push you toward choices they deem to be “practical.” There’s value in hearing them out but nothing can replace listening to your passion. What lights you up. If you don’t yet know what drives you, be patient. Try lots of things and be extra cautious to not settle into a life that you didn’t choose.

teen girl looking at her phone while in a coffee shop3. Practice Self-Care

For any form of anxiety, self-care can serve as a bulwark. Fortify yourself against stress by focusing on elements like:

  • Healthy eating choices
  • Regular sleep patterns
  • Daily exercise
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Practicing self-compassion

To sustain such a regimen, it can be quite helpful to keep a diary journal. Monitor your emotions, triggers, challenges, and solutions. Such a journal will come in mighty handy during your therapy sessions (see below).

4. Take Stock of Your Resources

Whether you are working or attending school, living at home, or living on your own, you have more resources than you might imagine. Anxiety can truly thrive when you feel alone and helpless. Create a support system and never hesitate to ask for help.

Speaking of Resources…

Therapy is a powerful option for this scenario. Your weekly sessions can serve as both a safe space and a workshop. Alongside a skilled guide, you are well-positioned to identify counterproductive patterns while exploring new approaches along the way. If adulting anxiety has you feeling overwhelmed, we urge you to reach out to talk. Let’s get you started with a free and confidential consultation soon for anxiety therapy.

african american woman smiling at something off camera

How To Let Go Of The Idea Of Being “Perfect”

There is a very thin line between striving to be your best and succumbing to perfectionism. Having even one toe over that line can be enough to cause frustration and high anxiety. You’ll live in fear of making a mistake or looking foolish in front of others. As a result, you may stop trying to do anything unless you’re certain you will excel at it. This is a life of limitations and loss.

Yes, life can be pressure-packed and we should aim for success. But each and every one of us has the right to define what “success” means to us. Step one is to reject perfectionism.

Self-Love is the Entry Point

Perfectionism is not a self-loving choice. It is a daily reminder that you’re never good enough. By not accepting yourself, you’re heading down a road to self-hatred. Breaking news: Hating yourself is not a productive step toward acceptance. Thus, with that in mind, I invite you to peruse the suggestions below and you move to liberate yourself from the perfectionist trap.

How To Let Go Of The Idea Of Being “Perfect”

Perfection is a Counterproductive Myth

It does not exist. It cannot be achieved. What every human can attain, however, is their own personal best version of imperfection. We choose to be thankful for this because if everyone could be perfect, the world would be a monotonous and un-motivating place.

Take Breaks From Social Media

Almost everyone presents a carefully curated image of themselves online. Consuming this content all day, every day is enough to shatter anyone’s self-esteem. More specifically, you can start believing that you can’t post anything — thoughts, photos, etc. — unless it is (wait for it) perfect. So, take tech breaks as often as possible to detox your mind.

Try Something New

Don’t enter into this action with a success-failure state of mind. Do it for the sake and the joy of trying something new. You will benefit in the process because shying away from new tasks leads to stagnation.

african american woman smiling at something off cameraPractice Saying No to Others

It’s fine to have times when you prioritize yourself. Part of being “perfect” might be an image of yourself where you’re always there for others. This is a noble goal but not one that will serve you without some balance. Sometimes, you need to make a choice that’s designed to make you happy. This will decrease your stress levels and build your self-reliance while helping others release their “perfect” image of you.

Let Go Of Black-and-White Thinking

Instead of viewing every endeavor as a zero-sum situation, you can break down the effort into parts. Let’s say you have a project at work. You can find satisfaction and fulfillment in the process by breaking it into several parts. All your work doesn’t have to be reduced to a single final grade (read imperfect). Rather, you can take pride in each step along the way.

Talk Back to Your Inner Critic

Perfectionism has a soundtrack. It’s that internal monologue that points out every tiny flaw and tells you you’re not good enough. Guess what? You can snap back at that anxious voice and fact-check its claims. Talk to yourself with the same compassion you’d aim at your best friend. Choose encouragement and patience. Celebrate small victories and find the lessons when things turn out less than ideal. Let positivity have the final say.

Has Perfectionism Gotten Too Deeply Embedded?

A tricky aspect of perfectionism is that it can try talking you out of asking for support. Therefore, I invite you to reach out and talk. Let’s connect in the name of exploring your situation and we can help.  Reach out to learn more about anxiety therapy.

woman in a red sweater pulling it up to cover her face partially

3 Tips To Improve Your Self-Esteem When You Have Anxiety

What comes to mind when you think of anxiety? Most people would answer that question with words like worry, stress, fear, dread, or panic. And they would not be wrong. But how many folks associate low self-esteem with an anxiety disorder? After a little thought, however, the connections become more obvious.

If you feel scared on a regular basis, it’s not a mindset that breeds confidence. You feel vulnerable and perhaps anxiety is telling you that you are weak. Anxiety causes us to doubt our abilities. We lose faith in ourselves which, in turn, makes us more susceptible to anxiety.

3 Tips To Improve Your Self-Esteem When You Have Anxiety

1. Be Your Own Motivational Speaker

Anxiety is a skilled liar. Therefore, it must be challenged. Here are a few simple ways to swing the dynamic in your favor:

  • Speak praise to yourself: Compliment and encourage yourself on a daily, if not hourly basis.
  • Keep a journal: Keep lists of your goals, accomplishments, and dream. Revisit this journal often.
  • Reward yourself: When you nip anxiety in the bud, do something nice for yourself.

2. Take Action

Nothing counteracts anxiety like taking action. If you allow anxious emotions to keep you from doing what you like and need to do, your self-esteem is not given a chance to increase. Create challenges each day and follow through. Start small. For example, if social anxiety is your nemesis, put yourself in public places every day. Say hi to people. Engage in small talk. Work your way up and watch your confidence grow!

3. Strike a Power Pose

This one might sound too good to be true but it has plenty of research behind it (more about that soon). The basic idea is to strike a pose that makes you appear and feel physically bigger and stronger. Here’s an example:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Your hands on your hips
  • Your head held high
  • Square off your shoulders and stick out your chest
  • Hold the position for as long as you can (but at least two minutes)

In this pose, you set off physiological changes. These changes alter how your brain functions and, in turn, shift how you feel about yourself. If that wasn’t enough, studies show that the people who encounter you in this pose instantly get a strong, positive first impression of you. Their palpable reaction will further trigger your confidence and all of this is accomplished without speaking a word.

woman in a red sweater pulling it up to cover her face partiallyIt sounds crazy but low-power poses have been shown to reduce testosterone (a hormone of dominance) by as much as 10 percent. Meanwhile, a powerful stress hormone called cortisol can spike by 15 percent. Conversely, in a power pose, check out these numbers:

  • 25 percent decrease in cortisol
  • 20 percent increase in testosterone

Translation: You have more confidence and are better equipped to manage stressful situations. So, look up some power poses, choose which ones you prefer, and strike these poses as often as possible.

Anxiety and Self-Esteem Are Complicated Issues

None of the above is designed to downplay the serious impact these issues can have on your life. Anxiety is a diagnosable mental health disorder. Low self-esteem has been linked to higher risks of depression and self-harm. In other words, by all means, take self-help steps to improve your well-being. But if you feel overwhelmed by out-of-control emotions, please reach out for help.

A skilled therapist is an ideal person to speak with about all of this. Your therapy sessions can become a safe avenue for exploring your feelings and behaviors. Together, you can discover healthy new approaches — and that is a fast track to higher self-esteem!

Reach out soon to learn more about how anxiety treatment can help you with self-esteem.

What Is The Connection Between Anxiety And ADHD?

As much as we wish they did, our minds and bodies don’t always cooperate with our medical diagnoses. Mental or physical conditions can present in a very similar way and thus, complicate treatment. For example, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders not only have similar symptoms, but they also occur together at a high rate.

Yep, about half of the adults with ADHD are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Understanding the differences is essential. If you have ADHD but don’t realize you also have anxiety, it can seriously impact how successfully manage ADHD. Let’s shine a light on this connection and how to navigate it in a healthy manner.

The Connection Between Anxiety And ADHD

There are several different types of anxiety disorders. ADHD is not one of them. It is a developmental disorder that often emerges during childhood. Some of ADHD’s hallmark signs and symptoms can overlap with anxiety disorders, e.g. restlessness, fidgeting, a short attention span, and more. Some details to remember:

  • ADHD and anxiety disorders can occur independently of each other.
  • Someone with ADHD can become quite stressed about the outcomes of their condition (forgetfulness, being late, losing things, etc.) and this can increase their risk of getting an anxiety disorder.
  • If you are taking medications for ADHD, they can sometimes cause side effects that mimic the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Anxiety primarily features feelings of fear, worry, and nervousness. This, in turn, can lead to forgetfulness or loss of focus. With ADHD, however, having difficulty with concentration is part of the disorder.
  • People with ADHD will typically not display the perfectionist behaviors that are common with anxiety.
  • If you have both conditions, it is likely that (until treatment kicks in) the symptoms of both conditions will be more severe than if you had the conditions independently.
  • Children with both anxiety and ADHD can be more irritable and get into more trouble at school. In some cases, they will withdraw into activities like watching TV or playing video games.
  • The full scope of the connection is not yet fully understood but other factors being explored are environmental toxins, premature birth, and genetics.

Self-Help Steps That Can Complement Your Treatment

People with ADHD and anxiety can successfully manage both disorders. A major component of this reality is their willingness to commit to important lifestyle changes. These may include:

Basic Self-Care

  • Try to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night — getting to bed and waking up at roughly the same time
  • Daily physical activity and exercise have been shown to lower anxiety which, by proxy, will lessen the impact of both conditions
  • Learn how to make the healthy eating choices that work for you and, in the process, lessen your symptoms
  • Cultivate stress management and relaxation techniques

Identify Your Triggers

Do the work to recognize what can set off either ADHD or anxiety (or both). This will reduce that feeling of being blindsided. It can very helpful to keep a journal to monitor and track these triggers. Journaling is also a helpful way to express yourself and name your emotions.

Add Structure to Your Life

ADHD can knock you off track. Getting knocked off track makes you more anxious. Left unchecked, the cycle will spiral from there. Be proactive by creating a firm day schedule for yourself — always allowing plenty of time for each task. It doesn’t have to be obsessive but your schedule should be viewed as something you wish to follow in the name of feeling better.

Get the Help You Need and Deserve

If what you’re feeling has you confused, let’s talk. Let’s clarify what’s going on and what can be done. Reach out soon to learn more about anxiety treatment or ADHD Treatment.

photo of a woman who's face is covered by her hair as she leans forward crying into her hand

Is OCD An Anxiety Disorder?

According to the National Library of Science, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is classified as an anxiety disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. In many ways, this would be seen as the final say. However, a growing body of work is connecting OCD to non-anxiety disorders like disordered eating and autism. As a result, the DSM-5 does give OCD its own category. In the meantime, as it should, the research continues.

However, everyone agrees that OCD and anxiety orders — at the very least — have a significant amount of overlap. Therefore, it makes sense to keep this in mind when diagnosing and treating patients with certain symptoms.

Can You Have OCD and an Anxiety Disorder?

The numbers supply this question with a clear “yes” answer. At least one-third of those in a 2021 study had both Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Someone with GAD and OCD will usually display symptoms that overlap, for example:

  • Unexplained muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Ongoing anxiety without an obvious, discernible cause

In that study, there was a higher incidence of the following condition in people with OCD and GAD:

  • Panic Disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Social Anxiety
  • avoidant behavior
  • Type II Bipolar Disorder

It goes without saying that more study is required. But, in the name of providing effective and appropriate treatment, studies like this alert practitioners to trends that must be factored in. This is especially true since other studies have found that someone with anxiety and OCD may be at a higher risk of suicidal ideation.

photo of a woman who's face is covered by her hair as she leans forward crying into her handIsn’t Anxiety Part of OCD?

It absolutely is. But the cause of that anxiety is an important distinction. With GAD, the worries and fears are rooted in reality. They may be very exaggerated or misplaced, but they arise from events that could happen or perhaps have happened in the past. Think of it as typical nervousness but on steroids.

People with OCD take anxiety to a different place. With GAD, you can struggle with health-related anxiety. With OCD, it could be more extreme, e.g. believing that touching a doorknob will definitely result in a terminal illness. It’s not a random thought either. OCD anxiety is part of a pattern — repetitive, intrusive thoughts that cause progressively more distress. Then comes the compulsions part of the cycle. The presence of compulsions is what truly separates GAD from OCD.

In response to concerns that are knowingly irrational, someone with OCD conjures up rituals to cancel out the possibility that disaster is looming. These are compulsions. They are automatic reactions to obsessive, anxious thoughts. Compulsions are often more irrational than obsessions — and the person knows it.

What Does All This Mean For People in Need?

It’s not hard to see why OCD is categorized as an anxiety disorder. By the same token, it’s equally as logical to carefully distinguish the two conditions. In the end, for the person being impacted by either disorder (or both), what matters most is getting the help they need and deserve. This begins with a proper diagnosis.

You may be struggling with OCD but you’re getting treated for GAD. Truth be told, you might be getting treated for something like Borderline Personality Disorder. Hence, the road to recovery begins by finding a practitioner with the experience and expertise to understand what’s going on.

As a starting point, keep a diligent journal of symptoms, signs, triggers, and solutions. Identify patterns. This will be valuable evidence for the therapist you choose. With all this in mind, I invite you to reach out today. Let’s connect for a free and confidential consultation and get this process started for anxiety treatment.

asian woman standing against wall smiling at camera

Ways To Lessen Your New Job Jitters

Let’s first state what should be obvious. Everyone feels some jitters when they start a new job. Whether you’re flipping burgers or getting the corner office, it’s a change and changes are a big deal. You want to make a strong first impression and it’s important to fit in. But what about all the uncertainty? You wonder what your boss will be like. Will you get along with co-workers? How tough is the workload?

Fear of uncertainty can result in performance anxiety. You wonder if you’re up to the task and boom, the jitters increase. Fortunately, the worry can be lessened — allowing you to thrive.

What Causes New Job Jitters?

Studies show these to be some of the top concerns for professionals about to start in a new work position:

  • 28 percent of responders worried they actually were not qualified
  • Not getting along with co-workers (32 percent)
  • Will not like the new job (42 percent)
  • Will not succeed in the long term (48 percent)
  • Unable to be good in the new position quickly enough to satisfy themselves and their bosses (55 percent)

You’re not alone. So, accept the nervousness and take active steps to ensure you get things off in the best possible way.

asian woman standing against wall smiling at cameraA Few Ways To Lessen Your New Job Jitters

Cultivate Some Grounding Exercises

You’re likely to feel some stress on Day One. A helpful skill for that is grounding. For example, when you feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to identify items in your workplace or office. Categorize them as what you can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. Another hack is to splash some cold water on your face to stave off anxiety.

Talk Back to That Negative Inner Voice

Imposter syndrome may rear its ugly head as your first day nears. Never forget that anxiety is a skilled liar. There is no reason to believe what it tells you. Talk back. Challenge it. Demand evidence. Keeping yourself that they would not have hired you if they didn’t view you as fully qualified.

Be Prepared

  • Do a practice run of the commute
  • Find out what food options exist in the area
  • Learn about dress codes and other particular workplace rules
  • Prepare your outfit the night before
  • Get to bed extra early
  • Set your alarm to allow for maximum prep time
  • If you bring lunch, make it in advance
  • Reach out to your boss or supervisor to find out if they have any Day One suggestions for you

Embrace a Big-Picture Perspective 

It’s just a job. Sure, there are many serious factors involved but your life will encompass many changes. So, treat this experience with respect but keeps things in perspective. Part of that can be okay with not knowing what to do right away. Things will happen in their own time and before you know it, the gig will be second nature. Remember:

  • Nervousness is temporary
  • As you settle in, you’ll make friends
  • Again: They would not have hired you if they didn’t view you as fully qualified

New Job Jitters Could Be Connected to an Anxiety Disorder

While it’s very possible to overcome new job jitters, this is not a call to ignore what you feel. Anxiety is a diagnosable disorder that may worsen in times of stress — like switching jobs. If you feel that anxious thoughts are preventing you from accomplishing basic daily tasks, it can be useful to talk to a professional.

Working with a therapist not only smoothes a process like starting a new gig. It empowers you to identify underlying causes for counterproductive patterns in your life. From there, you can create new methods for living your life in the healthiest possible way.

Reach out to us soon to learn more about anxiety treatment.

photo of a wedding cake

Cold Feet? How To Deal With Anxiety Before Your Big Day

It could be a job interview, a big test, giving a speech, a first date, or even your wedding day! You get to decide what is and isn’t a “big deal.” What all of these events have in common is the potential to inspire anxiety. If you’re already struggling with an anxiety disorder, that could go double.

You might be nervous, sweaty, or unable to sleep the night before. A range of worst-case scenarios is racing through your mind. How in the world can you overcome so much worrying? Well, remember, you are not alone and you can warm up your cold feet.

What is Anticipatory Anxiety?

It’s not a specific diagnosis and is often an offshoot of an existing anxiety disorder — often social anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety crops up when a future event or situation has you excessively stressed. A little nervousness is typical. If you find yourself unable to think of anything else, it’s probably anticipatory anxiety.

Common Symptoms of Anticipatory Anxiety

  • Feelings of dread
  • Jumpiness
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Restlessness
  • Expecting the worst
  • Shaky hands/shaky voice
  • Extreme perspiration
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Digestive problems

photo of a wedding cakeHow To Deal With Anxiety Before Your Big Day

Practice Daily Self-Care

This is standard advice under any circumstance. When struggling with anticipatory anxiety, self-care becomes especially critical. Some factors to consider:

  • Safeguard your eating habits: Limit food or drinks that make anxiety worse (e.g. sugar, alcohol, junk food, and caffeine)
  • Maintain regular sleep patterns: This is foundational
  • Daily exercise and physical movement: Proven to enhance mental and physical health
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Try yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, mellow music, visualization, and more
  • Keep a journal: Monitor your triggers, your responses, and what you did to calm yourself (this journal will be useful in therapy)

Running parallel to your self-care regimen is your state of mind. Be patient with yourself. Engage in self-compassion and resist judging yourself harshly for feeling anxious.

Control What You Can Control

Anticipatory anxiety can spiral when you feel out of control. A powerful step to address this before it begins is to identify what is and isn’t within your influence. Take charge of the moment by focusing solely on what you can control. For example, if you’re feeling stressed about a job interview, ask someone to role-play with you to get more comfortable with the dynamic.

Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

A thought isn’t a fact. When anxiety tells you a lie, you can challenge this fake news. Replace that negative energy with positive affirmations. Give yourself a pep talk! Splash a little cold water on your face to stimulate the vagus nerve and shift your point of view.

Change Your Perspective

Re-read the list of symptoms above. Now, what if you chose to identify that list as signs of preparation? You’re excited about your big deal and part of that experience might be some temporarily uncomfortable side effects. In the end, however, the journey is fun. The experience that’s waiting at the end of the journey is something to look forward to.

Reach Out to Talk and Ask For Help

Humans are social creatures. We’re designed to problem-solve collectively. Take advantage of this reality to get support from friends, family members, online groups, etc. It can be quite helpful to learn how many others get cold feet before a big deal.

At the same time, if the anticipatory anxiety feels like more than you can handle, therapy is a proven option. Your weekly sessions are a safe space and a workshop. Under the guidance of a mental health professional, you can identify underlying patterns and new solutions. Let’s connect and talk more about this soon in anxiety therapy.

photo of a neat and tidy made bed with pillows on it

How to Calm Anxiety at Night

Most people are busy all day with work or school or social obligations. The nighttime is when things get slower and quieter. In this calmer, more solitary setting, your brain has far more space to focus on worries and concerns. There are far fewer distractions to silence your anxiety. This, of course, can result in sleep problems.

From there, a cycle can kick in. Nighttime anxiety interrupts your sleep. Feeling exhausted the next day makes you more vulnerable to anxiety. Daytime anxiety turns into nighttime anxiety and things go from there. Obviously, it is vital to have methods available to calm anxiety at night.

Yes to Routines and Rituals

You don’t have to structure and plan your entire life. But having routines serves the dual purpose of decreasing anxiety and enhancing your sleep patterns. Here are some suggestions and guidelines to consider:

  • Your routines during the day can set you up for peaceful sleep. Eating at the same time is a great way to start. Also, a regular exercise regimen burns off stress while creating a routine and improving sleep. Most of all, get to bed at the same time each evening.
  • Create and adhere to nightly bedtime rituals. It could be reading, taking a bath, meditating, or basically anything that is tech-free (scrolling is not going to help you nod off). Completing these rituals lets your brain know that it is time to get sleepy.
  • If you lay down but have trouble sleeping, get up. Train yourself that the bed is for sleep. So, get up and do more of the relaxing rituals mentioned above.
  • Awaken at the same time each day — even when you don’t have work or school.

How to Calm Anxiety at Night

Accept What is Happening

Anxiety is an incredibly common problem. There is no shame in feeling it and it’s best managed by first acknowledging its existence. Learn more about anxiety, its origins, and how to address it.

Try Using a Weighted Blanket

This is not just a hot Internet trend. A weighted blanket, thanks to its deep-pressure stimulation, can reduce anxiety and improve sleep.

photo of a neat and tidy made bed with pillows on itWhite Noise

Another helpful tool is a white noise machine. Setting one of these up in your bedroom drowns out distracting noises. Study after study finds that static sound enhances sleep quality.

Avoid Drinking Alcohol and Caffeine

Both of these substances have the potential to increase your anxiety levels while negatively impacting your sleep. Ideally, don’t drink or eat anything too close to bedtime.

Develop Some Simple Relaxation Techniques

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Meditation
  • Aromatherapy and essential oils
  • Listening to mellow music
  • Cuddling with a pet

These important tools can be helpful in both helping you wind down before bed and easing you into sleep after you’ve laid down.

Start Journaling

It has been shown that writing down your feelings can be helpful as a way of letting them go. You can make journaling part of your pre-sleep rituals. Just as effectively, add to your journal during the day to help process emotions before they can become nighttime obstacles.

Ask For Help When You Need It

Everyone has some level of anxiety in their life. But, if you find those anxious feelings getting to the point where they are negatively impacting your sleep, it could be time to talk to a professional. An anxiety disorder can affect your sleep and therefore, hamper your daily functioning. You do not have to struggle on your own.

Before this cycle can take hold, I invite you to reach out for support. Let’s get you set up for a free and confidential consultation for anxiety treatment.

photo of a woman biting her fingernails who is anxious

How Does ERP Therapy Help With OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the U.S. Its hallmark is a pattern of intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that lead a person to perform repetitive rituals (compulsions). Everyone experiences unwanted thoughts at times. With OCD, these fears and the behaviors they provoke dramatically impeded one’s ability to function on a daily basis.

Fortunately, many different treatment options have been developed over the years. One of the most common and effective is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Put simply, ERP manages symptoms by exposing a person to their triggers.

More About ERP Therapy and OCD

One goal of OCD treatment is to reduce or prevent the person’s response (compulsions). Triggers and stimuli are inevitable. Dysfunctional responses are not. ERP is a behavioral designed to manage compulsions. This accomplished via specific ERP techniques, e.g.


This is when the client learns all there is to know about OCD. Such awareness demystifies the disorder and can build confidence about managing it.

Practicing Exposures

It may seem counterintuitive at first but someone with OCD can benefit from being gradually exposed to triggers in the presence of their therapist. If this is not possible at first, the therapist can guide the person through an imaginary scenario.

Learning to Tolerate Uncertainty

A person with OCD will experience an intrusive thought and experience distress over it. They fear the thought will come true so they create rituals to prevent this outcome. ERP guides that person to acknowledge the thought without engaging in the compulsion. Over time, this can acclimate the person to the inevitability of uncertainty and thus, neutralize the obsession.

photo of a woman biting her fingernails who is anxious

Response Prevention

Getting comfortable with uncertainty allows the treatment to move forward into response prevention. Two examples of this are:

  • Delaying the ritual: There can be immense value in lengthening the time between an obsessive thought and compulsive behavior.
  • Altering the ritual: Getting into the habit of changing the rituals around demonstrates that the compulsions are not as powerful — or necessary — as the person with OCD believes.

How ERP Works For OCD

The above techniques can:

  • Use habituation to reduce the anxiety created by both obsessions and compulsions
  • Make it apparent that the intrusive thoughts are not as unbearable as they seem
  • Help the person recognize that are far more capable of managing OCD than they might imagine
  • Most importantly, EPR can make it obvious that obsessive thoughts do not lead to terrible outcomes that require some kind of intervention

ERP is not a miracle cure and each person will progress at their own rate. But the National Institutes for Health (NIH) have found that about 50 to 60 percent of patients who “complete ERP treatment show clinically significant improvement in OCD symptoms and treatment gains have shown to be maintained long-term.”

How to Get Started With ERP

If you’re interested in Exposure and Response Prevention and believe it can help you, it starts with finding a therapist with experience in this modality. Reach out to talk and inquire about their compatibility with you. For example:

  • You will want to find out if they have often worked with individuals with OCD
  • Ask how it will be determined that you are ready for ERP
  • Get specifics on the treatment frequency, duration, and the measurement of progress 
  • Find out as much as possible about ERP and what to expect

I would love to help you address and manage the symptoms and challenges presented by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Therefore, I invite you to set up a free and confidential consultation in which we can talk more about you, the treatment, and how we can support you with anxiety treatment.

young adult woman smiling at camera standing near a construction site

If You’re Anxious About “Adulting,” Don’t Worry, You Aren’t Alone

According to the notorious Urban Dictionary, “adulting” is a verb that means “to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals.” But they add this caveat: “exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.” Translation: Adulting makes plenty of people anxious. If you’re one of them, you can take solace in not being alone.

Simply put, growing up is challenging — now more than ever. It is inevitable that you will feel anxious about it at times. A major step is to accept this normal tendency while learning the skills you’ll need to productively move forward into adulthood.

A Few Reasons Why Adulting Can Feel Scary

The Obvious

Almost always, adults have way more responsibilities and obligations. Their lives are busier and there is a much smaller margin for error. If that doesn’t give you pause, you’re not paying attention.

The Abstract

Separation anxiety is real. Even if you don’t have a great relationship with your parents, you may fear losing the security of the family. Being an adult means a higher potential for loneliness. Also, it means less immediate support for all the new duties touched on above.

The Scary

Death anxiety is real, too. The transition from child to teen to adult means, of course, that time is passing. You may feel anxious about losing the people in your life. That anxiety can also be triggered by you losing the innocence of childhood. In addition, as you age, you accumulate more meaning in your life. This is great but it also symbolizes that you have more to lose.

young adult woman smiling at camera standing near a construction siteHow to Ease the Anxiety of Adulting

Again, Recognize That You Are Not Alone

Sticking with the theme of this post, let’s reiterate that adulting anxiety is not a sign that you are uniquely flawed. It is a sign that you are human. Practice patience and self-compassion. No one said adulting would be easy. This part of modern life and you will find your way!

Don’t Settle

You will get plenty of advice urging you to make practical choices. There is some value in this, of course, but — through it all — move toward your passions. This is your life. You do not have to follow society’s blueprint. So, pay close attention to whatever brings you joy. What makes you lose track of time when you do it? And remember: You can fail at the “practical” option, too. Therefore, if life is fraught with risks, why not focus on that which lights you up?

Connect With Others

Find ways — in person and online — to interact with folks in your age range to share stories, doubts, plans, and more. Don’t hide away if you feel ashamed of what you see as slow progress. Open up and create a community. Surrounding yourself with peers is a chance to grow, learn, network, and evolve. It is how ideas are formed and nurtured.

Talk With an Expert

I’m not talking about a career expert (although that might help). I’m suggesting you reach out for counseling. There are many valid reasons why you are struggling to achieve independence. Some of these reasons might be tough to talk about. In a therapy setting, it is easier to share and be vulnerable. The more you explore your underlying patterns, beliefs, blockages, and dreams, the more capable you can become as an adult.

There is no magic formula to adulting. However, committing to therapy sessions positions you to develop the skills you need to thrive. If adulting has you stressed, I invite you to set up a free and confidential consultation at your earliest convenience for anxiety treatment. Let’s tackle this transition together!