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Anxiety at school

Dealing with School Anxiety

The homework load, the social pressures, standardized testing, all of these and more can cause your child to experience anxiety in school. While some stressors can be helpful (meeting deadlines, learning organization, understanding teamwork), too much stress will backfire and produce levels of anxiety that can be harmful. Suddenly the thought of a bad grade can produce outright terror of failing in life. Read on for practical info and solutions for school anxiety.

How is School Anxiety Different?

The school day as most children experience it is a microcosm of several societal environments crammed into one thing we call “school.” There is daily work, developing relationships and friendships, time management, intense learning, understanding authority, and navigating personality changes. All of these monumental and critical areas of life we navigate throughout our lives all occur simultaneously at school. Your child has to remember her Chemistry test while figuring out where to sit at lunch, who to sit with, and how she is going to have time for English homework after basketball practice. All of this happens in the mind of a 14-year-old middle schooler.

Catastrophizing!

Perhaps you have experienced this with your children: You’re driving home from school and she’s dead quiet. When you ask how was school, or how was her day, you get a frustrated sigh and then she releases all of this information and panic all at once. It might sound like this:

“I think I failed my test. Ms. Beckett says the test counts for 40% of the total grade. I got a C- last week, and if I get an F this week, I might fail English. If I don’t pass English this year, I’ll have to retake it next year and then I’ll be behind. I haven’t even started on my report, and I don’t see the point if I’m going to screw it up like everything else. I’m going to flunk 9th grade! I won’t get into college! And my life will be over!”

While this might be a bit extreme, this line of thought is common in children experiencing school anxiety. This is “catastrophizing.” It starts with a belief of a negative outcome, and from that negative outcome, every other possible negative outcome follows until they arrive at a catastrophe based in a false negative reality. One negative line of thought results in a belief that says, “My life will be over!”

Finding A New Perspective

The biggest challenge to overcoming catastrophizing is finding ways to bring in good, true, and helpful perspectives to your child. The trick is finding the right time and place to do it. When your child is anxious, her brain is NOT in a place to be rational. You wouldn’t try to reason with an animal caught in a trap, right? That’s basically your kid in the middle of a school freakout. This is where it is helpful to just be present, not judge or react, and ask gentle questions rather than convince your child she’s fine.

A hug can go a long way. Or just sitting with your child and listening. A simple,”That sounds super stressful” can be helpful. Once she’s somewhat calm, questions like: “What do you think can help you right now?” and “What do you think is most likely to happen?” can help your child slow down more and think clearly. When emotions are high and the anxiety is strong, negative thoughts fly fast. But if your child has an opportunity to come down from all that energy and think, the catastrophes tend to become manageable.

If your child is struggling with anxiety and tends to catastrophize, it can be helpful to teach her to ask herself these three questions:

  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • What’s the best case scenario?
  • What is most realistic?

 

Now, don’t try to have her answer those questions in the moment of her anxiety; give her some space, wait for things to calm down, and then ask her these questions. Eventually, your child will be able to think through the situation, have clarity of mind to see things differently, and then have a more reasonable outlook on school or whatever is causing this kind of anxiety.

Oftentimes, the anxiety and stress of school can be overwhelming for our students and in turn for our entire families. Sometimes it helps to discover new ways to navigate and understand anxiety. Counseling can be a simple conversation with someone on your side, who’s there to listen and understand, and provide support. We offer counseling services for students experiencing stress in school at our offices in Fort Collins. Call our offices today or email us to schedule an appointment for you or your child. (970) 889-8204; contact@coloradocac.com

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Anxiety at work

Anxiety at Work

Seven Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety at Work

Having an anxiety disorder can impact one’s work and social life in a major way. Getting stressed out at work is perfectly normal. But when the anxiety is irrational, and you’re stuck feeling overwhelmed on the job, it may be time to make some changes. The difficulties can come from many areas, but we see these things most often in our practice:

  • Meeting deadlines and staying productive
  • Interpersonal relationships (fitting in)
  • Conflicts with management
  • Sudden problem solving

Sound familiar?

While the challenges are real, the good news is there are strategies that can help you stay productive, stay engaged, and work through anxiety. Here are seven strategies for overcoming anxiety at work.

1. Talk It Out

Most people don’t feel safe or comfortable discussing stress with their employers and coworkers. They fear if they do, they would either not be taken seriously or they would get passed over for promotions. So many people keep things hidden instead of looking for help. As we all know, that just doesn’t work.

If you find a trusted coworker, just ask for help. You can always return the favor. Sometimes, simply knowing that there is someone with you who accepts you and your condition can be all the comfort you need. Just knowing there’s “Jan in accounting” may be enough to get you through that panic moment of anxiety. If you simply have too much to handle, speak up; they may not realize you’re overextended and need support.

2. Be Realistic About What You Can Handle

Some people can fit a lot on their plate, some can fit less, and others don’t have a plate – they have a platter! If you have a more realistic awareness of what you can do well, it will help you prioritize and set the pitch for your workload. If you can only do three things really well in a day, then do those to your best ability. Multitasking is overrated.

3. Set Healthy Boundaries

Does your work stay at work or does it get in the car come home? Emails will still be there in the morning and most can wait until you’re back at the office to be answered. Start small if you need, but put in place boundaries that will give you the space to decompress after the workday.

4. Celebrate Success, No Matter How Small

Small victories are victories, so take a moment to celebrate your personal development! Oftentimes it’s easy to move past things done well, but taking a moment to realize that you handled that stressful situation really well can make all the difference in an otherwise hectic day. Sometimes it helps to think to yourself, “I would have handled that completely differently before.”

5. Fight for Organization

Everyone knows it’s good to be organized and manage one’s time well, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. Simplifying your workspace can not only save you time in the long run but may prevent a crisis later.

6. Know Yourself

The biggest hindrance to working through anxiety at work is not acknowledging how you are feeling in the moment. Jumping to action doesn’t always help, because those actions may not be the right choice. When you learn to recognize the symptoms of your anxiety, you can then move toward working through it, and then make clearer decisions. Overcoming anxiety begins with understanding and working with the symptoms you’re feeling, not against them.

7. Find the Right Strategies

Sometimes, the tools we think should work end up not working at all. If you ever think, “The harder I work, the worse it gets,” then maybe you’re using the wrong tools. Anxiety at work can be combated and overcome, but it does require intentional steps toward a healthier living. This is where it might be helpful to sit down with a professional who can provide both clarity and strategies that make sense for you.

Our clinicians specialize in treatment of anxiety and career concerns. If you would like support with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed at work, contact our office today to see if counseling could be helpful. Call (970) 889-8204 or email: contact@coloradocac.com

 

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Do I Need Therapy?

Do I Need Therapy?

You sat at the table surrounded by family, getting drawn into the same family dynamics (for better or worse), and as you ate you realized that maybe you need some help. Whatever brought you here doesn’t really matter. Whether someone recommended you look into therapy, or you came to that decision on your own, you have now found yourself looking into counseling. That’s a good thing.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself as you think about starting counseling:

Do I Struggle With Stress and Anxiety?

The most common reason our patients schedule their first counseling session is struggling with anxiety. While we all experience stress in our daily lives and relationships, sometimes the feelings of anxiety can become overwhelming. If you ever feel helpless when you find yourself in stressful circumstances, it can make a huge difference to gain some tools and strategies to move through those feelings successfully.

Are My Most Important Relationships Strained?

Everyone says that communication is the key to healthy relationships, and while that is true, there is a big difference between healthy and unhealthy communication. Whether it’s a spouse, a sibling, coworkers, friends, or parents, sometimes these cherished relationships find themselves pushed and pulled and the people in them become hurt. Having a safe and objective third person to help untie all the knots that lock up relationships can be the change agent you need toward healthy, loving, and committed relationships.

Am I Stuck On A Traumatic Event?

Pain and trauma don’t just disappear after time has passed. Sometimes you just need to sit down with someone and talk through the trauma and pain. Life is hard, grief and loss affect us profoundly, and it can all get packed up tight inside your mind if you don’t work through it.

Do I Struggle With Compulsive Behaviors?

If you find yourself with thoughts or behaviors that interfere with your normal life, counseling can help you break out of the negativity. Also, if you find yourself drinking or using drugs more and more, it could be a signal that you’re numbing feelings that need to be addressed. Talking with a counselor can be a great opportunity to find new healthy ways of coping with stress.

Are My Parents/Friends/Relatives Right?

If the people closest to you have mentioned that counseling might be a good thing for you to consider, they might be right. It may be time to spend some time with a professional who is invested in supporting you and guiding you toward growth. The holidays with relatives can be challenging, but sometimes they can be good motivation for personal growth as well.

The Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling offers therapy services for adults in our Fort Collins office. We can schedule a free 30 minute consultation or an hour long initial counseling appointment. Call us at (970) 889-8204 or email us at contact@coloradocac.com to set up an appointment.

 

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