10 Ways to Cope With Anxiety
Need help managing your worries? Follow this psychologist’s advice.
6. Set aside worry time. All too often we take a “Crackberry” approach to our worries: They show up unannounced, like constantly dinging e-mails, and we stop everything to address them―even if we should be doing something else. But what if you don’t respond right away? Try setting aside 20 minutes every day―let’s say at 4:30 p.m.―just for your worries. If you are fretting at 10 a.m., jot down the reason and resolve to think it through later. By the time 4:30 comes around, many of your troubles won’t even matter anymore. And you will have spent almost an entire day anxiety-free.
7. Take your hand off the horn. You constantly check the weather before a big outdoor event. You replay that clumsy comment you made, wishing you could take it back. And, yes, you honk your horn in traffic. When you desperately try to take command of things that can’t be controlled, you’re like the swimmer who panics and slaps at the water, screaming. It gets you nowhere. Instead, imagine that you are floating along on the water with your arms spread out, looking up to the sky. It’s a paradox, but when you surrender to the moment, you actually feel far more in control.
8. Breathe it out. You may notice that when your body is tense, you hold your breath. Focusing on breathing is a common but effective technique for calming the nerves. Where is your breath now, and where is your mind? Bring them together. Listen to the movement of your breath. Does your mind wander somewhere else? Call it back. Concentrate only on breathing in and out, beginning and ending, breath to breath, moment to moment.
9. Make peace with time. When you’re a worrier, everything can feel like an emergency. But notice this about all your anxious arousal: It’s temporary. Every feeling of panic comes to an end, every concern eventually wears itself out, every so-called emergency seems to evaporate. Ask yourself, “How will I feel about this in a week or a month?” This one, too, really will pass.
10. Don’t let your worries stop you from living your life. Many of them will turn out to be false, and the consequences of your anxiety―less sleep, a rapid pulse, a little embarrassment―are just inconveniences when it comes down to it. What can you still do even if you feel anxious? Almost anything.