counseling in Arnold

10 Signs That You Might Be Under Stress

She’s Got It All, Doesn’t She?

Maria might seem familiar to you. Maybe she’s a friend, relative, co-worker…. Maybe she’s even you. I know her well, because she’s like many women I see in my Annapolis counseling practice who are affected by stress.

How stress affects your life

Maria sees herself as a woman who can handle a lot. She’s very busy most of the time, and when she’s got free time she finds things to fill her schedule. She juggles a career, children, laundry, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, and helping out friends in need. In fact, Maria loves to help others, but she finds asking for help much more difficult.

In the past, her friends often wondered how she managed to keep everything under control, but lately they worry that she’s struggling. Maria hasn’t said anything, but she’s missed a few plans with friends, she’s forgotten about parent meetings at the middle school, and she seems very distracted, as if her mind were a million miles away.

Life Changes Can Add Stress

Until recently, Maria had always seen herself as independent and motivated. More important, she always felt in control. Then she was promoted at work. In her new position, she has to manage employees and learn new responsibilities. She was so excited and proud to be promoted, but the added work has created stress. Maria believes that she should be able handle her new job without a mistake. She’s sure the employees are judging her and will no longer respect her if she doesn’t get it right.

10 Signs That You Might Be Under Stress

  1. Worrying all the time.
  2. Feeling as if our mind is always in the “on” position.
  3. Being short-tempered towards family and friends.
  4. Wanting to avoid people and places for fear that others are judging you.
  5. Anxiety attacks that seem to come from nowhere.
  6. Experiencing frequent headaches or stomachaches.
  7. Feeling tightness in the chest, or shortness of breath.
  8. Difficulty focusing on daily tasks.
  9. Trouble sleeping most nights because your mind won’t turn off.
  10. Feeling overwhelmed at work and at home.

Perfection: A Realistic Goal?

Maria thought she had to be a perfect parent, a perfect employee, a perfect wife, a perfect friend — but suddenly all of the pieces of her life that she’d kept organized and balanced suddenly felt overwhelming. She was irritable with her family, she avoided friends because she was sure they were judging her, she was constantly worrying, and she was stressed out. Maria thought that asking for help made her weak. When her husband and best friend suggested she see a counselor to help her manage her stress, Maria felt like a failure, but she knew she needed the outside support. 

With counseling perhaps Maria can learn to let go of the need to control everything and everyone, to reach out for help and support and to accept herself for who she is — a human with built-in imperfections.

Counseling Can Help You Manage Stress By:

Mindfulness helps you feel less overwhelmed
  • Giving you a safe, non-judgmental place to talk about what’s on your mind.
  • Providing space to tell your story from your perspective.
  • Allowing you to gain an understanding of your body’s stress response, and how it impacts your mental and physical health.
  • Teaching you stress-reduction strategies and techniques.
  • Helping you learn to accept yourself as you are, so that you can embrace your imperfections.

Sometimes our carefully controlled lives can feel out of control, like Maria’s did after her promotion. Counseling can help you bring balance to your life and reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed.

If you would like help managing your stress please call me for a free 15-minute phone consultation. You can also check out my blog for more posts on stress, mindfulness and how counseling might help you.

Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist, blogger,  creator and host of the Woman Worriers podcast, and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979. 


Signs Of And Strategies For Dealing With Worry

Worrying is normal; it’s how we assess for potentially dangerous situations. But sometimes worry can take over your life, and leave you feeling overwhelmed. When that happens, you might need some strategies to let go of the worry.

Always Worrying

You might see yourself in this story because this could be many of my clients that I’ve worked with in my Annapolis counseling practice who have struggled with worry, stress and feeling overwhelmed.

Worrying can leave you exhausted and feeling overwhelmed.

Worrying can leave you exhausted and feeling overwhelmed.

Francie was always busy. She took care of her home and her family, she worked part time, she volunteered at her kid’s school, and she was always the first one to offer to help out her friends. From the outside Francie appeared to have it all together, but what most people didn’t know was that Francie worried all the time.

She had twin girls and entering middle school, and she worried about them out in the world. She worried about her husband driving to Baltimore County on the beltway each day. She worried about her parents, who might be getting divorced. She worried about her sister, who seemed to like to have a little too much fun. She worried when her house wasn’t clean, or the laundry didn’t get done. She worried when everyone in her family wasn’t happy, and worried when she couldn’t make everything better. She worried that maybe she wasn’t a good enough mother, wife and friend. She worried about worrying too much.

We all worry. It’s part of being human, and worry can serve us well because we are ready for danger when and if it comes. But for some people, like Francie, worrying can take over their thoughts, leave them feeling overwhelmed, and they lose the joy and ease in their lives.

5 Ways To Recognize That Worrying Could Be Ruling Your Life

  1. Worrying keeps you from falling asleep or staying asleep most nights.
  2. It feels like your mind is always “on.”
  3. You rehash conversations, your actions or behaviors over and over again, wondering how you might have done things differently.
  4. When things don’t go as planned you get frustrated, angry or scared.
  5. You’re irritable a lot of the time.

All the worrying made it hard for Francie to sleep well. Some nights she fell asleep at 3 a.m., only to wake again at 6 a.m. Her friends and family didn’t know that she worried so much, that she often had trouble concentrating at work, and felt unfocused much of the time. She got frequent headaches and stomachaches. Sometimes she couldn’t swallow food because of the tightness in her throat.

Recently, Francie had an anxiety attack while working at her daughters’ school. She was light headed. Her chest felt constricted, and she could only take shallow breaths. She began to sweat, she saw stars, and she thought she was going to faint. This was the first time her friends knew she was struggling. She was mortified that they had witnessed her in such a vulnerable state. The feeling of losing control prompted Francie to seek therapy.

Counseling For Anxiety

Through counseling, Francie began to understand that her need for control stemmed from her learning at a young age that being in control kept the peace, and it also kept her safe. Over time, Francie revealed that her father had been an alcoholic. Francie had to take care of her younger siblings when her mother was at work. If Francie didn’t keep them under control, her father would yell at her and then at her mom when she got home. This made her mom really sad, and Francie felt she was to blame. When she was able to keep her siblings under control, things were less stressful, and she felt safer.

Counseling also helped Francie understand that her constant worrying was anxiety, and staying busy was her way of controlling it. If she was always doing something, she had little time to think about her worries, and so she filled her days with work, activities and chores.

We discussed the impact that all her worrying was having on her mental and physical health. We talked about why being in control was so important to her, and how hard it was to control everything in life.  Together we came up with some strategies to help her more easily accept the natural ups and downs of life, which allowed her to let go of her need to control everything.

5 Strategies To Help You Let Go

Practicing mindfulness can help ease worry

Practicing mindfulness can help ease worry

  1. Practice daily mindfulness. Mindfulness means paying closer attention to what is happening right now, with openness and compassion. It keeps you attuned to the here-and-now instead of worrying about past and future events. You can read more about practicing mindfulness and self-compassion.
  2. Exercise regularly. Exercise releases the body’s natural “happiness” chemicals and hormones. It can also help you sleep better.
  3. Practice healthy sleep habits. A good night’s sleep can take the edge off, make you less irritable and activate your body’s immune system.  The American Sleep Association has some great tips on how to promote good sleep habits here.
  4. Do yoga, get acupuncture or meditate. These alternative practices can help you relax your body and calm your mind.
  5. Get support. Talk to friends, family or a counselor. People often feel alone in their struggles. Sharing your experience can help you feel more connected and supported.

Achieving Emotional Balance

Through counseling and some lifestyle changes, Francie has been able to live a more emotionally balanced life. If you would like to live your life with more balance please call or email Progression Counseling for a free 15-minute consultation.

Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-340-8469.


Practice Self-Compassion To Ease Anxiety

Self-Compassion Helps You Feel less Anxious

Self-compassion helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Self-compassion helps reduce stress and anxiety.

I recently wrote and article for the Severna Park Voice on self-compassion, and how it can help you feel more connected to yourself and others. And it does, but self-compassion can also help you feel less anxious.

By replacing the negative self-talk from our inner critic with more supportive positive messages, we begin to feel more at ease, and at peace with ourselves. When we feel more at ease, our anxiety levels drop, because we no longer perceive potential danger. And our body is able to return to a more balanced emotional state.

More About Self- Compassion And Anxiety

You can read the article in the Severna Park Voice, and more about self-compassion in my blog.

Please leave a comment below to let me know how you practice self-compassion in your life.

If practicing self-compassion does not come easily to you, please call or email me for a free 15-minute phone consultation. 410-340-8469.

Elizabeth Cush, MA, LCPC, is an Annapolis therapist helping people manage their stress and anxiety. Progression Counseling, offices in Arnold and Annapolis. 410-340-8469