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Anxiety

Anxiety

Image by Han Chenxu

Anxiety seems to be pervasive in our society today. More and more people are showing up at doctors’ offices and therapists’ offices complaining about feeling anxious and having panic attacks. Anxiety negatively impacts many areas of our lives. It affects our ability to function at work, socially, and in relationships. It affects our relationships, our ability to try new things and to expand into life. Sadly, it also hinders our ability to fulfill our purpose and to actualize our dreams.

I know about anxiety. Not just from books and training but also from personal experience. Anxiety can feel debilitating. An enemy at the front door always there to remind us how unsafe we are in the world.

WHAT IS ANXIETY
“The APA [American Psychological Association] describes a person with an anxiety disorder as “having recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.” Once anxiety reaches the stage of a disorder, it can interfere with daily function. In this article, I will discuss Generalized Anxiety and stress. There are other disorders that are categorized as Anxiety such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders that are outside the scope of this article.

Anxiety is a set of symptoms that are experienced in response to a known or unknown trigger and is felt subjectively as danger. Symptoms are generally experienced physically, cognitively/psychologically, and spiritually (unless they are related to a physiological condition which is outside of the scope of this article);

Physical/Somatic Symptoms:

  • Heart palpitations

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

  • Restlessness

  • Other distressing physical sensations

Cognitive/Mental Symptoms:

  • Distorted, rigid, thinking

  • Fear-based thoughts

  • Excessive worry

  • Irritability

  • Sleep difficulties

Spiritual Symptoms:

  • Lack of purpose

  • Existential angst

  • Meaninglessness

CAUSES OF ANXIETY

The causes of anxiety are multifaceted. When anxiety is caused by a real threat it is a normal and healthy fight-flight-freeze response to danger. But when anxiety is caused by a perceived threat it becomes maladaptive and troublesome. We can often get trapped in a fight-flight-or freeze pattern that shuts us off from our natural healthy responses to life. Some causes for anxiety are;

  • Early childhood or late-onset trauma

  • Prolonged exposure to daily stress

  • Inconsistent parenting in early childhood

  • Attachment and relationship difficulties

  • Life events that are stressful such as job loss, divorce, parenting difficulties.

  • Unresolved grief and loss

  • Learning disabilities and other conditions such as ADHD

  • Confusion about ones purpose and feeling lost and overwhelmed by life

  • Lack of external and internal resources

  • Medical conditions

Anxiety is a complicated condition but you can learn to manage anxiety. Anxiety points to areas of our lives that need attention and can be a gift of growth if we are willing to engage with its teachings

Please note that the information in the article is the opinion of the author and is not meant as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a professional. It is intended for informational and educational purposes only.

Trauma

Trauma

pink cosmos flower in bloom during dayti

WHAT IS TRAUMA?

Trauma is defined as distressing or disturbing experience. When we think of trauma we think about out of the ordinary experiences such as severe childhood emotional, physical and or sexual abuse, service-related trauma, and other extreme experiences.  But in reality, “PTSD and trauma-like symptoms may be the result of growing up in an alcoholic home, suffering a natural disaster, being physically or sexually abused, grieving the death of a loved one, being a child of divorce, experiencing religious and spiritual disenfranchisement, being involved in a motor vehicle accident, experiencing disease…undergoing surgery*” and more.

Common symptoms of trauma can include:

  • Fear of the unknown – hypervigilance

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Depression

  • Difficulty in relationships

  • Loss of interest in things you once liked

  • Increased desire to isolate

  • Enhanced sensitivity and overstimulation

  • Shame and worthlessness

  • Not remembering certain things from your past

  • Nightmares and flashbacks

  • Recurring thoughts and memories

  • Somatic symptoms

  • Feeling ungrounded and scattered

  • Difficulty concentrating and focussing

  • Loss of a sense of Self and direction

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty trusting others or self

  • Feeling unsafe

These symptoms are said to occur due to a fight/flight/freeze response that happens at the time of the traumatic event that was not fully processed. Our body/mind/and spirit go into a fight/flight/freeze response in order to help us feel safe. We develop unhealthy protective mechanisms to help us get through the painful event and keep going. The effects of trauma can stay stuck in our systems causing us to become triggered whenever anything consciously or unconsciously reminds us of the original trauma.

Some say that Trauma causes soul loss. We become fragmented which can cause tremendous inner turmoil and confusion, and many of the symptoms described above. It is said that the healing process is the retrieval of those parts of us so that we can feel whole again.

SOME BENEFITS OF HOLISTIC TRAUMA THERAPY

  • Better self-esteem

  • Increased inspiration and energy for life

  • Clarity

  • Improved relationship with self and others

  • Self-worth

  • Connection to the purpose and your authentic self

  • Sense of gratitude and grace

  • Improved mood and reduced anxiety

*INTRODUCING A TRANSPERSONAL, SPIRITUAL, HEALING FRAMEWORK FOR THE AFTERMATH OF TRAUMA\Ruth Grant Kalischuk, RN, PhD, Jason Solowoniuk, BHSc, MEd, and Gary Nixon,PhD

Grief & Loss

Grief  & Loss

Image by Brooke Lark

It is important to understand how to process and transform through grief and loss. By facing the loss you can;

  • Learn tools for effective coping.

  • Bring your feelings to the light for healing.

  • Have more compassion for yourself and others.

  • Share your innermost feelings in a safe and validating environment.

  • Discover the positive within your loss.

  • In time, learn to accept and make peace with the loss.

Loss is an inherent and natural part of life and can be painful and disorienting. If honored and worked with it can also help recognize our internal strength and resilience.

From the moment we are born we begin to experience loss. We lose the comfort and safety of our mother’s womb, we lose our childhood innocence, we make and lose friends, we lose pets, and sometimes family members.

As adults, we may lose homes, jobs, loved ones, or even our dreams. But, we do not have to lose hope.

Since life itself is intricately connected with loss it is critical to understand how to process, work through, and find peace with the losses we experience.

Every loss is significant, but we do not always feel entitled to our pain due to internal and external pressures.

In the extreme, such as in the case of complicated bereavement, unprocessed loss and grief can adversely affect many areas of our lives. In an effort to survive and function, we suppress the pain. We may be fooled into thinking that we have moved past the grief only to discover later that our difficulties and blocks are linked to the unprocessed grief.

 

Symptoms of Prolonged Grief and Bereavement

If the following scenario sounds familiar, you may be experiencing the symptoms of unhealed grief;

You have lost something or someone in your life and even after some time you don’t feel like yourself. Things feel off. You are not sure why you are irritable all the time. You’re not thinking about the loss, but you feel sad and unmotivated. You suddenly have an onset of symptoms that seem to be worsening over time that were not there previous to the loss.

 

Grief can be felt emotionally, physically, and spiritually;

Emotional: Waves of sadness and crying, lack of motivation, irritability, fatigue, indecision, foggy thinking, confusion, detachment, numbness, anger, avoidance, isolation, and more.

Physical: Somatic symptoms such as fatigue, aches, and pains, heartache, etc..

Spiritual: Anger at God, disconnect from a higher power, disconnect from your purpose, mistrust in the process of life, and feeling lost to name a few.

Some of these feelings are normal after a loss and if felt and processed can lead to a healthy movement through the grieving process. However, if not worked through these feelings can become prolonged and may even worsen over time.

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Pet Loss & Bereavement

Pet Loss & Bereavement

Pet Loss.jpg

There are few losses as painful as losing a beloved pet; a family member, a best friend, a soul spirit. When this happens we can feel that there is no one to turn to, and no one who understands. I understand!

How do we come to terms with the loss of a pet when this pet was more than just a pet. Animals bless our lives in ways that we can’t always articulate. They can often be the best part of our day.  Losing our pets leaves a void so big that the pain is overwhelming.

Everyone processes loss differently, and pet loss is no exception. People grieve in their own unique way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

When it comes to losing a beloved animal we may minimize our pain and feel like we should “get over it”. But it’s more difficult to get past what we are not able to acknowledge, feel, and heal. 

Loss is an inherent part of life. It is important to understand how to process and transform ourselves through loss rather than getting stuck in it, avoid it, or suppress it. We may often think that we have moved past the feelings associated with loss only to discover that we are still grieving the unprocessed loss. 

****I am now offering pet loss support sessions so that you can process the loss with someone who understands. This can be short term (1-3 sessions) or longer. If more sessions are needed we will discuss the best option for you at that time. Please call for details. 

NORMAL SIGNS THAT YOU ARE GRIEVING THE LOSS OF YOUR PET

  • Crying

  • Sadness

  • Depression

  • Anger

  • Avoidance of things that remind you of your pet or the circumstances of the loss

  • Irritability

  • Lashing out

  • Fatigue

While all pet loss can feel traumatic, there are circumstances that leave you feeling guilty, desperate for answers, and hopeless such as; 

Even though you know deep inside that you would never knowingly do anything to harm your pet,  you are haunted by “if onlys” and “what ifs…”.  But you do not have to keep feeling this way. You can come to acceptance and forgiveness. I know because I have been there. 

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE SESSIONS?

Grief is unique to each person and everyone’s needs are different. In these sessions I will provide a non-judgemental space in which you can tell the story of your beloved pet. Some questions we may consider are;

  • ​How has my animal companion contribution to your life?

  • How are you better today because of your animal companion?

  • How has your animal companion mirrored you?

  • What has your animal companion taught you?

 

Other possible benefits;

  • Tools for Coping

  • Memory book

  • ​Self Care

  • Expressive art to help process feelings

  • ​​Be aware of the stage of grief you are in and know that everyone grieves differently. There is no right way to grieve.

  • How to respond to the reactions of others

Please call for a 15 min consultation to discuss what is most appropriate for you!

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