Anxiety and Impulsiveness

We all suffer from anxiety from time to time. There are various levels and kinds of anxiety. Feeling anxious can lead us to engaging in behavior that is self-sabotaging if we are not careful. For example, have you ever taken a math test in which you had studied profusely, and felt as though you knew the answers on the test, but then found out later that you made a low score because you simply made careless mistakes on several questions?

Another example of anxious behavior, is having a crush on someone, and then when you get the opportunity to say something to that person you become flustered.  These are normal anxious flubs that most of us have experienced. Chronic anxiety can often lead to making impulsive decisions that are not rational. For example, in my work as a contractor for the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Probation/Pretrial, almost all of my clients have anxiety, which they tried to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs prior to going to prison. When someone has debilitating anxiety, more often than not, they can’t think of anything or anyone else but their anxiety and how to alleviate it the fastest way possible. If they do not have effective coping skills, that means that they cannot think about their actions rationally, nor can they consider the consequences of their actions and how they make other people feel.

Typically, under anxious conditions, your body and your mind are operating in fight or flight mode. Some of the coping mechanisms that I help my client’s with are breathing techniques, guided meditation, thought restricting, and retracing the origin of their anxiety. Because of new technology, there is also very useful information on the internet. There are lots of breathing exercises and meditations that can be found on YouTube. One of the most useful phone apps that helps with managing anxiety is the worry box, which helps you with setting a time limit of how much you allow yourself to worry in a day. If you worry outside of that time limit, you can type your worries in a box. This app is also very useful in performing guided meditations. It also provides education on the type of worrying you do.

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This blog was written by Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC. This blog is meant to be educational and not meant to diagnose anyone or to be used in place of therapy or treatment with a licensed mental health professional.

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