The Stressed-Out, Very Busy NYC Professional :: Is Anxiety And Stress Hijacking Your Life?
Something just doesn’t feel right and while you may think you’re managing all the aspects of your hectic life pretty well, that “off” feeling may be anxiety that's pulling you out of your game. You could benefit from finding a therapist to help you sort things out but you’re too busy to make it to the gym or show up for family and friends as it is. You are a high-achieving, busy New Yorker, you are also struggling to balance personal and professional demands. You can’t do everything, and at times, it feels like you may be sinking instead of flourishing. Many high-functioning New Yorkers also battle chronic, stress-induced anxiety and tension that can lead to physical symptoms and depression.
You may overeat and abuse substances so now that we’ve identified those behaviors, this is a good time to consider whether anxiety and stress are driving some of these bad habits and patterns. Do you feel unwell because of anxiety and is it time to seek treatment for your stress and anxiety? How would your life improve if you found effective help for your symptoms of stress and anxiety?
I always recommend seeking professional support when anxiety is hijacking your life. Licensed psychotherapists have specialized training to help you better manage anxiety and cope better in the many aspects of your life so that you can create a healthier work/life balance. If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed, numb, less resilient, or that you eat and drink your feelings, here is some practical help until you find a therapist to work with one on one.
Pause, Identify + Notice — This is hard for busy professionals to slow down, hit the pause button and observe their thoughts, feelings and emotions or “tune-in” to what’s happening in their body. Who wants to do that especially when you work so hard to avoid unpleasant feelings. The body speaks loud and clear when we learn to listen to its wisdom. But you can’t slow down, I get that, because you’re wired to keep moving. If you don’t figure out how to create balance, you will crash and burn. I recommend that you start slow, practice baby steps. After all, it’s stress and anxiety that makes it impossible for people to slow down and pause long enough to observe. Anxious people are always in “action mode,” they busy themselves to avoid. Start small. Take a few moments to sit and relax in silence. Nothing to do in those moments but take a pause. I know that you fear things will fall apart, but it’s unlikely. You may find that you have more in your tank to attend to what you need to accomplish, and that you do it better.
Your Body Needs Your Attention — NYC professionals with anxiety are frequently disconnected from their body. You’ve learned to dissociate from your needs, your self and your body. Sure, you hit the gym early in the morning—and that’s a great stress-buster—but it’s not the same as checking-in with your body. You likely workout in the same way that you attack the rest of your day. Take some time to pause for a moment or two when you remember and notice where your body may be holding tension—your forehead, jaw, neck, shoulders, lower back. Where are you holding and gripping, and can you relax that part of your body. You aren’t accustomed to noticing how your body speaks. The language might be a subtle expression or you may find that it’s actually screaming at you and you’ve been to active to notice. Why is this important? Because the body stores trauma, experiences and unexpressed emotions and they always show up at some point, usually as pain and physical illness. Acknowledge and try to soften and release the tension and sensations in your body regularly to alleviated states of stress and anxiety. This effort will lead to enhanced wellbeing and you will experience greater whole-body integration.
Food, Alcohol + Drug Tracking — Manhattan parties hard and people socialize and entertain regularly, and often, mindlessly. Develop enhanced awareness around the way you consume food and alcohol and your relationship in general with substances and behaviors. One popular tactic is to learn to tolerate your anxiety in social situations by delaying drinking when at an event. Anxiety like many other uncomfortable experiences peaks, but you will learn that it falls as well. If you care to practice, you can learn to “surf the wave” of anxiety and watch how it naturally lessens. We are so used to finding ways to immediately remedy discomfort that we don’t know how to tolerate the range of natural experiences. Practice delaying your next alcoholic beverage and drink water or a non-alcoholic beverage between drinks. Pass on the foods such as sweets that may leave you self-loathing later. Many of my clients complain about increased anxiety during the day but then we later discover that they are actually experiencing a spike in anxiety that’s related to excessive drinking the night and even days before. Alcohol does that. Taking an honest inventory about your unhealthy relationship with alcohol, food and drugs is helpful when you begin to work with a therapist to reduce your anxiety and stress.
Time Yourself Out In Nature — We have the data that tells us that spending time in nature increases our sense of connection, enhances physical health and reduces anxiety. Busy New Yorkers spend a lot of time looking at screens and attending to emails and texts. We now know about the many benefits of nature and the damaging effects of urban life and excessive screen time. The unseen forces of nature and especially trees have chemicals that enhance immune function, reduce cortisol and improve our response to stress. Negative ions are a good thing! Nature exists even on the island of Manhattan. You can also travel outside of NYC to get your nature fix. Take 20 in the park, with some sunlight as often as you can.
Find Your Zen Through Play — Please, take the necessary time to replenish and nurture yourself with a hobby or time dedicated to relaxation, play and fun. Have a catch with your dog, practice your photography skills or take time to cook or bake. You may think play is silly, or self-indulgent but it’s actually self-care that attends to your spiritual, creative and “soul” needs. Busy professionals especially need to make time for play. This is how we recover and refuel.
I provide therapy and coaching for high-profile NYC professionals and creatives online to help them manage anxiety, depression and excess stress. Reach out for a consultation.