Anxiety? What's it all about?

I'm a checker. When I leave my home or before I go to bed at night, I check things. The oven, my hair styling tools, the crock pot (This Is Us has intensified my fear of crock pots), the lamps, etc. I have an irrational fear that one of these electric devices will malfunction, causing an electrical fire.

My fear is irrational for several reasons. Most of my hair styling tools have a setting that automatically powers them off if they're left on for too long. Even if I did leave an appliance on, the chances of it starting a fire are incredibly low due to modern changes in electrical wiring. Despite my knowledge that my fear is irrational, I continue to check.

I have plenty of evidence contrary to my irrational belief, but anxiety causes me to continue to worry. What's even worse, when I "check" my devices, I'm only reinforcing my anxious thoughts and feelings. I experience a fleeting sense of relief when I check an object and find that it's off. That momentary sense of relief keeps my anxiety alive.

Anxiety is a very normal emotion- we should worry sometimes. Anxiety keeps us safe and is a protective emotion. However, if you're worrying about things that 1) Haven't ever happened to you and; 2) Are very unlikely to happen to you and this excessive worry is causing you significant distress, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is very common in the United States with 19.1% of American adults reporting that they struggle with anxiety in the last year (National Institute of Mental Health). My philosophy to working with folks struggling with anxiety is to look for evidence for your faulty beliefs or irrational thoughts and to change anxious self-talk. Anxiety disorders can be treated. 

Emily Teegarden