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Often worries get stuck in a spin cycle and you find yourself living in the land of worst case scenario and self-doubt. Free-floating (generalized) anxiety finds all sorts of events and stresses to worry about. Or maybe your anxiety is more specific, such as getting the jitters during social or performance situations. You might be the parent of a child who constantly clings to you or refuses to talk. Perhaps your anxiety has developed in an even more narrow way, as a phobia or panic attacks. By noticing how automatic and unreliable our "worry brain" is, we can start to regain control. Another powerful tool for taming anxiety involves tending to the body. Through breathing and relaxation exercises, you can learn to cue up a more relaxed physical posture. Your thoughts then are more likely to be more realistic, grounded in the present. Calm.

Anxiety is one of my main specialties, so much so that it's hard to write a single paragraph about my approach to the entire topic of anxiety. From panic attacks to hair-pulling, from social anxiety to phobias of surgery and dental procedures, from anxiety about what has already happened to anxiety about what might happen, this is my area of expertise. Please see my areas of treatment page for more specific discussions about these different kinds of anxiety and my approach to them.

Whether your anxiety manifests as stress, tension, worry, fear, or phobias, there are a number of tools that can help you reduce anxiety, and teach you how to relate to it in an entirely different way. With anxiety, one of the biggest hurdles can be finding the courage to take the first step, because the urge to avoid your fears is so strong. But the fact that you're reading about anxiety treatment suggests you've already taken the first step, by looking into the options that may bring relief. Some of the ways that I help people with anxiety include understanding more about the way your thoughts contribute to your tension and learning different ways to respond to these thoughts; cultivating skills that can reduce physical and emotional stress; developing a program to face situations that you fear (at a pace that feels manageable); and using mindfulness to uncover a whole new approach to interacting with your anxiety.

Fear is what you feel when you are presently faced with something dangerous. Anxiety is what you feel when you anticipate something dangerous or unpleasant to happen. Understanding the fight, flight, or freeze response can be very helpful in reducing your anxiety level and helping you see that you have an innate capacity to relax your mind and body. You can learn relaxation and stress management strategies. If you want to go deeper, allow yourself to feel the anxiety, understand what it is about, and see it as an alarm bell that can actually be helpful to improve your life. Anxiety can be an alarm alerting you to the possibility that you are not dealing with something important. The longer it is not dealt with, the louder the alarm becomes. All emotions serve a function…how can you use your anxiety in a positive way?

There are many different flavors of anxiety: anxiety about intimacy, anxiety about specific experiences (phobias such as fear of flying, or fear of public speaking), social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and trauma experiences that create fears of being in one's own skin or being around other people. Many people come to therapy for help with a vague anxiety: the fear of simply feeling what's in your gut, and the fear of the unknown future. Therapy can help you pass through and move beyond suffering by feeling more relaxed in yourself and calm in the midst of life instead of feeling as if you are bracing against it.

Amy Stambuk, LCSW
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Elizabeth Nelson, Ph.D.
Kristen Morrison, Ph.D.
Irina Banfi-Mare, Psy.D.
Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence