Do you spend a lot of time in your own head? Keeping constant mental to-do lists, problem solving issues that may or may not have happened yet, scrutinizing how you reacted or responded to a recent disagreement? In moments of quiet, you’re always thinking. Stuck in traffic on your way home, the radio becomes quiet and your thoughts become loud. Maybe your mind wanders to that task you need to finish at work with the quickly approaching deadline, your husband’s growing unhappiness with his job, the dentist appointment you need to make for your son because he said he has a toothache, the friend who texted you days ago and you forgot to respond.
You’re thinking about all the possible outcomes of each situation and planning for the worst. Losing your job if you miss that deadline. Your husband quitting his job, putting all the financial responsibility on you. Losing your family’s health benefits, since you’re on the health plan offered through his work. Maybe you could put the family on your work’s health plan, but you’ve heard it’s terrible. How much would a dentist appointment cost without insurance? What if your son needs a more involved procedure? A root canal or an extraction? Maybe you should reach out to your friend who is a dentist and get her opinion. But you already forgot to respond to her text earlier this week. So, does that make you selfish if you only reach out when you need something? Would she think you’re a terrible friend? How will you possibly handle both you and your husband being jobless, losing the insurance, taking care of your son’s pending dental emergency, and losing a close friendship?
If you can relate to this pattern of thinking, you might have anxiety. A diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or the condition commonly known as “anxiety,” includes symptoms like excessive worry, difficulty controlling worry, feeling restless or on edge, irritability, and trouble sleeping. Sometimes, people with GAD don’t even recognize these symptoms in themselves because the patterns seem so engrained in who they are as a person. People with GAD are often described by others as “worriers.” A parent or spouse might say they’ve just always been that way. The worrying is old and familiar to those with anxiety.
However, living with untreated anxiety can take a toll on your health, with research linking increased cortisol (a stress hormone) levels to increased risks of cancer, heart problems, and even dementia. The good news is that GAD is a very treatable condition. Psychotherapy treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help you change your thoughts, even the most deeply engrained patterns and beliefs, and find better ways of coping. Maybe the time has come to get out of your head and to live life more fully.
Ask yourself: how loud have my thoughts become? How much time am I spending inside my own head? Are my thoughts getting in the way of living my best life? Once you see the unhelpful patterns, you can start to make positive changes, getting out of your head and into your life!
If you are struggling to get out of your own head maybe it’s time to speak to an anxiety therapist for help.