In following up on “When to worry about worrying,” there are 3 strategies you might consider to cope with chronic worrying. It is important to understand what worrying is, since the beliefs you hold about worrying play a huge role in triggering worry. You probably feel like worries come from the outside-from people, events that are stressful or situations you’re facing. In fact, worrying is self-perpetuating. The trigger may come from the outside, but your internal dialogue keeps it going! When you’re worrying you are likely obsessing on worst case scenarios and if you are focusing on ‘what ifs’ your worrying is unproductive. If you can give up the idea that your worrying somehow helps you, you can begin to deal with your worry and anxiety.
Many people with anxiety don’t know how to calm down quickly. Some ideas for self care to create calm include:
- Exercise, a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment
- Get enough sleep, limit caffeine, avoid alcohol and nicotine.
- Start eating healthy
You will also benefit from learning relaxation techniques-deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation and yoga. Be aware of what you can do for yourselves and design a self care program that works for you. Be flexible-does this mean you can never have a glass of wine? Absolutely not-everything in moderation!
If you have given self care a good shot and find you can’t seem to shake your worries and fears, you might consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy that is particularly helpful. CBT examines distortions in our ways of looking at ourselves and the world. It can help you identify automatic negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety. For example, if you are the type of person who catastrophizes, always think of the worst case scenarios, you might learn to challenge this tendency through asking yourself questions such as: Has this ever happened before? What is the likelihood it will happen now?, What are some more positive outcomes that are more likely to happen? With the help of a mental health professional it is possible to change your mind set and alleviate your worry and anxiety. This might not come easy to you, but with repeated practice you can retrain your thoughts and consequently your feelings.
Finally, with the assistance of a physician it is possible to alleviate your anxiety with the use of medication. Anti-anxiety medications relieve anxiety by slowing down the central nervous system. Their relaxing effects have made them very popular. Common anti-anxiety drugs are Xanax, Klonopin, Buspar, Valium and Ativan. Your physician can advise you about the pros and cons of these and other drugs to treat your anxiety. It’s important to remember that medications alone aren’t the cure. Therapy and lifestyle changes should be incorporated into your treat plan when you’re worrying about worrying!
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