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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.



Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.


anxiety challenged with calm and determinationAnxiety is challenged by calm, wisdom, strength and focus.

Anxiety, whether it comes rarely, is ever-present or seems to loom on the edge of your experience ready to strike, is a full body and emotional experience. When you are In it you just want out of it. That desire to get immediate relief can leave people in a desperate situation where they will reach for food, alcohol, drugs, isolate at home and under the covers, emotional venting on others and even violence.

In my psychotherapy practice, my first goal is to gain trust so that the individual can have an anxiety attack in my presence. Knowing I can bear it helps the person know it’s bearable. She knows she can talk through it, think while it’s happening and not act out. The first requirement in coping with anxiety and then relieving it is to be able to bear it while it’s happening.

Once that is achieved, we can unravel causes and triggers. We can develop the insight, strength and stamina to face and resolve the issues that cause our anxiety reaction.

Here, I’ll explore with you common anxiety triggers, from everyday stressors to more profound life events past and present, and provide practical coping strategies for healing from old wounds and gaining internal strength and understanding. Then, it’s possible to think and feel without acting out and work their way to a sense of calm.

The Many Faces of Anxiety

Anxiety comes in many forms, ranging from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) to social anxiety, panic disorder, and specific phobias. While the specific triggers and symptoms may differ, the underlying theme is the same: a persistent sense of unease and apprehension.

Common Triggers

  • Everyday Stressors: The demands of daily life can be overwhelming. From work deadlines to financial pressures, these everyday stressors can cause extreme unease in anyone.
  • Social Situations: For those with social anxiety, interactions with others can be a source of intense anxiety. Fear of judgment or embarrassment can lead to avoidance of social situations.
  • Trauma: Past traumatic experiences (PTSD), such as accidents or abuse, can leave a lasting mark on mental health.
  • Health Concerns: Worries about health, whether real or imagined, can lead to health worries. Individuals may obsessively check symptoms or fear the worst-case scenario.
  • Life Transitions: Major life changes like moving, starting a new job, or getting married can be stressful. Even positive changes can trigger unease.
  • Uncertainty: Uncertain future outcomes, like the result of a medical test or the stability of a job, can be particularly anxiety-inducing.
  • Family and Relationship Issues: Conflicts with loved ones, divorce, or the loss of a family member can trigger anxiety. Relationship anxiety can also stem from fear of abandonment or rejection.
  • Genetics and Brain Chemistry: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety due to family history. Changes in brain chemistry can also contribute to anxiety disorders.

Coping Strategies

Understanding the triggers is the first step in managing anxiety. Here are practical coping strategies to help you regain control:

  • Deep Breathing: Slow, deep breaths can calm your nervous system and bring you back to the present moment.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help you stay grounded. These techniques teach you to observe your thoughts without judgment.
  • Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters. Regular exercise can significantly increase calm and self-confidence.
  • Healthy Diet: What you eat can affect your mood. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help stabilize your mood.
  • Adequate Sleep: Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety. Prioritize getting enough restful sleep each night.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can worsen anxiety symptoms. Limit your intake, especially if you're prone to anxiety.
  • Therapy: Psychotherapy can be effective in managing and resolving anxiety. A therapist can help you identify and challenge negative thought patterns, recognize their source, and help you gain the strength and insight to resolve the cause of your fears.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication prescribed by a healthcare professional may be necessary to manage symptoms, at least temporarily, while you develop skills to resolve your issues. Consult your doctor for guidance.
  • Journaling: Keeping a journal can help you identify triggers and track your anxiety patterns. It can also be a therapeutic outlet for expressing your feelings.
  • Self-Care: Make self-care a priority. Engage in activities you enjoy, practice relaxation techniques, and pamper yourself from time to time.
  • Social Support: Reach out to friends, family, creativity workshops, and spiritual groups. Being with people you can share projects and interests with reminds you that there is more to you than fears and anxieties. Without talking about your anxiety issues, these relationships can provide emotional relief and support.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Setting achievable goals can help reduce feelings of overwhelm.

Seeking Professional Help

While these coping strategies can be highly effective, it's crucial to remember that seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If anxiety is severely impacting your life, a mental health professional can provide specialized guidance, therapy, or medication to assist you in managing your symptoms.

The Road to Recovery

Understanding anxiety, its triggers, and effective coping strategies can be a transformative journey. It's essential to remember that you're not alone in this battle, and there is hope for a brighter, more self-assured future. With patience, self-compassion, and the right support, you can resolve much of your disquieting and find a sense of confidence, calm and balance in your life.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Written by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD, and adult development.

She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, and UT. Author of the Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder

Appointments are virtual.

For a free telephone consultation, e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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